COVID-19: Death reported in outbreak at Severn Court Student Residence in Peterborough

Peterborough Public Health says a man died of a COVID-19 variant of concern in connection to the outbreak at Severn Court Student Residence. Global News file

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak at Severn Court Student Residence in Peterborough has claimed the life of a student, the region’s health unit reported Tuesday.

According to Peterborough Public Health, the man in his 30, who was a resident in the privately-owned west-end student residence, was hospitalized in Toronto last week after being diagnosed with a COVID-19 variant of concern. He died on Monday.

The outbreak was declared on Feb. 20 and was linked to large “social gatherings” at the Wilfred Drive facility, which primarily serves Fleming College and Trent University students. As of Tuesday, there are 59 cases linked to the outbreak, all of which have screened positive for a variant of concern, the health unit reports.

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An outbreak at Trent University’s Champlain College student residence is linked to the Severn Court outbreak, the health unit has previously reported.

“To date most cases have been resolved, and there are only five active cases that remain linked to the outbreak,” the health unit stated. “The number of high-risk contacts linked to the outbreak has declined considerably, indicating that the outbreak is stabilizing.”

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The death is the health unit’s 10th and youngest victim since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. The last death reported in the region was in early February.

Dr. Rosana Salvaterra called the death “a sad day for Peterborough” and said the death of someone so young was “heartbreaking” for all involved in his care.

“This student did not attend the party yet suffered the worst possible consequence,” she said.

“We send our deepest condolences to the family, and know that this is a painful tragedy for our entire community. As the youngest person to die locally from COVID-19, it reminds us how serious this pandemic is, that youth are not immune from its worst outcomes, and that we all have a role to play in ending it to prevent future tragedies.”

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In a statement Fleming College president Maureen Adamson says it’s “deeply saddened” to learn of the passing of the resident.

“Out of respect for the family and their privacy, the college will not be sharing further details,” she stated. “We grieve this loss together with our community, and have set up counselling and support services for students, faculty and staff. Peterborough Public Health and Peterborough Police Service continue to lead the investigation, and we continue to work collaboratively through the investigation.”

Salvaterra acknowledged the “high levels of outrage” many in the community are experiencing with regard to the outbreak, and encouraged residents to speak with those they know or seek professional supports and limit time on social media.

“The need to express our feelings is very real, however I think engaging in forums like social media is not as healthy as talking with someone who you can truly relate to,” she said.

Fleming closed all its in-person classes on March 1 for 14 days. Classes resumed on Monday. Students living in the Severn Court complex currently under the Section 22 stay-at-home order from health unit are not allowed to return to face-to-face classes or placements until that order is lifted by the health unit.

The health unit has also posted a “Frequently Asked Questions” segment on its website about the Severn Court outbreak.

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