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COVID-19: Outbreak up to 23 cases at Peterborough student residence

Click to play video: 'Peterborough Public Health declares outbreak at student residence' Peterborough Public Health declares outbreak at student residence
As of Sunday, 23 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at Severn Court student residence in Peterborough, including at least one case of a variant of concern – Feb 28, 2021

The case count is now at 23 after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Saturday at a student residence in Peterborough, the region’s health unit announced Sunday.

Peterborough Public Health held a media conference on Sunday afternoon to provide more details on the outbreak declared at Severn Court student residence in the city’s west end.

Read more: Universities in Ontario seek government support in face of $500M shortfall due to COVID-19

The 555 Wilfred Drive residence court consists of six buildings and is home to approximately 200 students from both Fleming College and Trent University.

The health unit said based on its initial investigations, several of the exposures occurred during a “private gathering” on Feb. 20. Details were not provided.

On Saturday, there were six confirmed cases, including a screened positive for a variant of concern whose type is not yet known as it undergoes further testing.

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However, on Sunday, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health, said the case count had jumped to 23. The health unit is working with both post-secondary institutions, and contact tracing continues.

“We have a large COVID-19 outbreak and it is continuing to evolve,” Salvaterra said. “At noon today, we had 23 cases identified. Nineteen cases were residents of Severn Court property and four are Trent students who are in self-isolation at the Otonabee (College) residence.

“I am not sure how many or who was at this gathering so we are still learning that,” she continued. “And I think some of those details will emerge as we follow up with the contacts.”

“It’s disappointing but not unexpected,” she added.

Fleming College president Maureen Adamson says the college is “deeply disappointed” in some of its students.

“We are deeply disappointed in the behaviour of Fleming students who were involved in this but I don’t believe for a minute that they represent the vast majority of our students,” she said.

A Section 22 order has been issued for Severn Court, closing all facilities to all visitors and requiring all residents to self-isolate.

Anyone who visited Severn Court between Feb. 20-27 is asked to self-isolate and get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, the health unit said.

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“This outbreak is very concerning not only because it involves a variant of concern and could lead to many more cases and high-risk contacts, but because it was also completely preventable,” Salvaterra said Saturday.

“In spite of this difficult situation, Severn Court Management Company has been incredibly responsive and are working very hard to help us contain the spread of the virus.”

Fleming has suspended all of its in-person classes at the Sutherland campus in the city for 14 days, impacting approximately 700 students and all placements, said Adamson.

“We have been in touch with our students’ faculty and staff throughout the weekend and we have set up a student COVID support line.”

On its own COVID-tracker site Sunday, Fleming College listed four cases of COVID-19 at the Sutherland campus.

On Sunday at 4:07, the health unit’s COVID-19 tracker reported 44 active cases of COVID-19 in the health unit’s jurisdiction. Other outbreaks include Buckhorn Daycare and Nursery School and Empress Gardens Retirement Residence.

— with files from Tricia Mason/Global News Peterborough

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