COVID-19: 56 cases now linked to outbreak in Vermilion at Alberta’s Lakeland College

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. According to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML

Social gatherings are believed to be largely behind what resulted in a COVID-19 outbreak involving at least 56 cases at Lakeland College’s campus in Vermilion, Alta., according to the post-secondary institution’s president.

In an update posted on the school’s website on Friday, Alice Wainwright-Stewart wrote that 45 of the cases are now confirmed to involve the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first discovered in the U.K.

She said 52 cases involve students while four involve staff.

“The investigation is in the early stages, however, at this time AHS (Alberta Health Services) has shared there is evidence that these cases have spread as a result of isolated off-campus social gatherings, which are not in compliance with provincial public health guidance from the chief medical officer of health.”

READ MORE: Alberta confirms 1,521 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, 674 new variant casesĀ 

Wainwright-Stewart said the college is working to help AHS with its investigation and that contact-tracing work is ongoing.

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She added that cleaning and disinfecting protocols at student residences have been ramped up and a number of common areas have been closed. However, she said she believes the school has done well to curb the spread of COVID-19 where it can.

“Alberta health inspectors visited our Vermilion campus this week to review our protocols and procedures and found them to be more than sufficient for on-campus learning,” Wainwright-Stewart said.

“To prevent the risk of transmission though, we moved classes for agricultural sciences and environmental sciences online earlier in April, and interior design technology after the Easter weekend.”

AHS declared the COVID-19 outbreak at the Vermilion campus on April 5.

On its website, Lakeland College says there are nearly 2,000 students enrolled at its Vermilion campus with over 500 living on campus.

Watch below: Some recent videos about the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.


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