8 COVID-19 cases at Western University’s Saugeen-Maitland Hall, outbreak declared

Western University administration emphasizes that the use of the lanyards associated with the new identification system is entirely voluntary. Geoff Robins / The Canadian Press

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 tied to a Western University residence on Thursday.

Western University also issued a statement, reporting that the outbreak was at Saugeen-Maitland Hall, its largest residence.

So far, the health unit says eight residents have tested positive for the virus and they are all self-isolating “with the support of Western’s administration.”

The health unit says it’s “following up with all close contacts” and that it is working with the university “to support these individuals as well as any other students who may need to seek testing or quarantine.”

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“Declaring an outbreak is an important step in order to limit further spread of the virus within the student community,” says medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie.

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“This outbreak highlights the need to limit close contact to only those within your dorm room, maintain two-metres physical distance from all others, wear a mask in all indoor public spaces and stay in your room or suite if you feel unwell.”

The health unit adds that in addition to the city’s COVID-19 Assessment Centres at Oakridge Arena and Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre, Western also offers on-campus testing for students, faculty, and staff at its Student Recreation Centre.

In its statement, Western says it is “taking its direction” from the health unit and is working collaboratively on contact-tracing.

“We are supporting students who have tested positive with transportation, meals, access to medical and mental health support as needed, and academic accommodations as necessary,” said associate vice-president of housing and ancillary services, Chris Alleyne.

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Western says all students in the residence are being notified of the outbreak and those who tested positive, as well as some close contacts, “have been moved to a quarantine location.”

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Phone numbers and email addresses for services for Western students and families and for staff can be found here.

Last month, an outbreak was declared at Western’s London Hall following four confirmed cases among residents.

An outbreak tied to Western University was also declared on Sept. 13, though in that case most of the five initial cases involved students who live off-campus. Before the week was through, on Sept. 17, a total of 28 cases of COVID-19 involved Western University students, prompting tighter restrictions at the university.

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