UNB confirms 6 cases of COVID-19, community transmission at Fredericton campus

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 outbreak at UNB Fredericton residence'
COVID-19 outbreak at UNB Fredericton residence
WATCH: A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at a UNB Fredericton campus residence, and those living there have been told to isolate in their apartments. Silas Brown reports – Apr 26, 2021

Public health has confirmed six cases at a residence building on the Fredericton campus of the University of New Brunswick.

An outbreak was declared on Monday at Fred Magee House, an apartment style residence on Montgomery St., according to emails sent to students from the university.

The first case was detected on Thursday, April 22.  On-site testing was available for anyone who wanted on Sunday.

COVID-19 testing for residents and staff of Elizabeth Parr-Johnston residence will take place on Tuesday after a possible exposure was identified.

READ MORE: New Brunswick to require 7-day hotel quarantine for most travellers

The campus has moved to essential services only for 72 hours in response, with access to campus prohibited and those living in residence being asked not to leave. St. Thomas University has also moved to essential services only.

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Those in Magee house were told Saturday that they aren’t allowed to leave their apartments until further notice.

“We’re really just trapped in our apartments, we can’t use the laundry facilities, we can’t take out the garbage and we can’t go out and get fresh air,” said Violet Eliza Soiux, who lives in Magee House.

Click to play video: 'N.B. implements mandatory hotel isolation'
N.B. implements mandatory hotel isolation

She says that support from the university has been lacking. After the first case was confirmed, residents were invited to a virtual meeting to address their concerns.

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“We were told that our concerns were a bit out of proportion. We were worried about community transmission, we were told that wasn’t a worry” Sioux said.

“We were basically laughed at, our initial concerns were laughed off, we were told that there was no need to worry, we could continue going to work, we could continue going to school when the first case was announced.”

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When residents were told of another confirmed case on Saturday, the public health notice said that there could be community transmission.

“We suspect there may be transmission between people in the building who are not known to each other,” said the memo from Horizon obtained by Global News.

So far food was brought in on Saturday and the university is working to bring in groceries for those who need them. An email from the school on Sunday says that the garbage situation will be addressed, but asked residents to keep it inside their apartments for now.

Click to play video: 'N.B. implements mandatory hotel isolation'
N.B. implements mandatory hotel isolation

The president of UNB’s student union says their top priority is ensuring students in residence have access to the essentials, including groceries and prescriptions.

“Basically we want to offer them grocery runs, we have safe ride vans, we did this in the fall for those that needed to isolate, we provided them with groceries,” said Sean Mackenzie.

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Sioux says they haven’t been told when the mandatory shelter in place requirement could be lifted. Her fiancée has an MRI scheduled in Ontario next week and is unsure if he’ll be able to leave, even for medical reasons.

According to the release from UNB, students are also not permitted to leave residence in order to move.

“Students living in UNB Fredericton residences are not permitted to leave campus for any reason including returning to their home unless otherwise directed by public health,” the release says.

Many students are also approaching the end of term, when they would normally leave residence. Sioux says she and her fiancée are supposed to move next month, but others in her building were planning to move at the end of this month.

She says the university has told people they can’t leave, even to move.

“People have said, upper echelon people have said we are not allowed to end our tenancy at this point,” bSouix said.

The university did not respond to email questions on if residents would be permitted to leave if they were moving, or leaving the province to return home.

“With updates and developments changing hourly, this situation is fluid.  Our utmost priority has been and will always be, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and our community,” said spokesperson Heather Campbell in an email.

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“Due to strict confidentiality and privacy concerns, UNB is provided with only the necessary information required to support contact tracing. UNB is working with and taking all direction from New Brunswick Public Health.”

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