KFL&A Public Health say at least five recent cases of COVID-19 have been linked back to a large indoor party held on Sept. 18 in Kingston’s university district.
Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health for the region, says that the party took place on the 500 block of Johnson Street, and that although the exact number of attendees is not yet known, public health believes there were more than 40 people at the indoor party that night.
Public health said it is tracking 60 people linked to the five people who tested positive who attended the Johnson Street party, but not all 60 people actually attended.
On Sept. 19, the Ontario government reduced the gathering limits across the province from 50 to 10 indoors, and 100 to 25 outdoors.
The new restrictions were placed on larger urban areas earlier in the week, but only came into effect a day after the gathering on Johnson Street.
Moore said public health officials are alerting the public because contact tracers have not been able to identify all party-goers.
“All individuals who attended this house party are required to self-isolate and to get tested. Once tested, individuals should continue to self-isolate until they receive a negative test result. If after this time, an individual develops symptoms they are required to self-isolate again and to get re-tested,” Moore said in a statement sent out Thursday.
Despite seeing “evidence of propagation” at the party, public health says it has yet to declare an outbreak linked to the party because it is still investigating how and when the virus was transmitted to the five people who who went to the gathering then later tested positive.
The health unit says the five are not new cases, but cases that were identified between Sept. 18 and Thursday. Public health would not divulge when the age, gender or the positive test date for any of the five cases linked to the Johnson Street event.
The health unit says there is currently no travel-related case linked to the party, and although the five cases linked to the gathering are still under investigation, it believes the mode of transmission for all five cases is “is direct contact with someone infectious.”
The KFL&A COVID-19 dashboard does not list mode of transmission on their website, like some other public health units do.
Queen’s University did not answer when asked if they were considering using the code of conduct in any instances involving recent parties in the university district. Instead, they offered, in part, the following statement:
“Today’s news from Public Health that five recent cases can be traced back to a large gathering in the community illustrates the importance of following Public Health guidelines – especially those governing group gatherings. Large gatherings make contact tracing by officials difficult and risk wider spread of the virus.”
The university said it is working closely with public health and the municipality to “educate students about local and provincial public health requirements and to support their enforcement.”
As of Thursday, there are 18 active cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston region.
There had also been a total of 18 positive cases in the region between Sept. 19 and Sept 30, but there is currently only evidence of five of those cases being linked to the party. Ten of the region’s active cases are women either 18 or 19 years old, five others are between the ages of 20 and 29, one is an elementary school child, and the final two cases are in their 40s.
Since Sept. 1, Queen’s said there have been 15 cases linked to the university. Seven of those cases were found in residence, while seven were off campus. The majority of the university’s cases, 11, have popped up between Sept. 24 and Oct. 1.