Local COVID-19 stats will include out-of-town students

Kingstonist file photo

The Kingstonist has confirmed that post-secondary students studying in Kingston who test positive for COVID-19 will be included in local infection statistics.

“If their permanent address is elsewhere, but they reside within the KFL&A area for the majority of the school year, we would count them within our case numbers,” said Dr. Hugh Guan, Physician Consultant for Kingston Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KLF&A) Public Health.

However, in June, public health told the Kingstonist that COVID-19 patients with permanent addresses outside of the KFL&A region would not be reported in local statistics, even if they were tested, treated or hospitalized in the Kingston area. This is in accordance with the provincially mandated testing policy, in order to avoid the false duplication of cases overall.

As of Tuesday, Jun. 2, 2020 as many as four additional cases had tested positive at Kingston’s COVID-19 assessment centre, but were not counted as or considered local cases.

In an email on Wednesday Aug. 26, Public Health explained that cases where the patient resides full-time in Kingston are counted locally, regardless of the address on their provincial ID.

“This has always been our process for reportable communicable diseases,” said KFL&A Public Health.

Testing and contact tracing protocols

Dr. Guan further explained KFL&A Public Health’s testing and contact tracing protocols as well.

“If an individual tests positive in our region, KFL&A Public Health immediately contacts that individual to make them aware of the positive test result,” he said. “KFL&A Public Health also begins the process of contact tracing, which includes asking questions about where the individual resides.”

If the individual resides in a location outside our region, he added, Public Health would normally refer the case to that Public Health agency for further follow-up. “However, if they reside the majority of the time within the KFL&A area, despite what their reported address states on their lab result, we will continue to follow-up with the person at KFL&A Public Health,” he said.

The same process would occur at other public health agencies Dr. Guan said. “If an individual from another region, according to their address linked to their Health Card, tests positive, but resides for the majority of the time within the KFL&A area, the health unit would refer the case to our region. KFL&A Public Health would perform contact tracing and necessary follow-up and add the individual to our dashboard.”

Post-secondary student arrival

Queen’s University has previously reported that it anticipates 2,300 incoming students to campus residence buildings alone, as well as upper-year students renting off-campus.

The university has asked all students arriving from outside the area to follow a list of COVID-19 prevention strategies, including testing before arrival, and limiting contact with people outside their home for their first two weeks. In accordance with the federal Quarantine Act, all students arriving from outside the country are legally required to quarantine for 14 days when they enter Canada, having no direct contact with anyone.

Public Health has been reportedly working since the May to bolster testing and contact tracing capacity in the region, anticipating the influx of post-secondary students to the region this fall. As of the time of reporting, there are three active case of COVID-19 in the KFL&A area.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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