Outbreak at Queen’s University continues to swell

Queen’s University Campus, Ontario Hall. Photo via Queen’s University.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Queen’s University continues to swell, with another 193 cases confirmed so far for the week of Dec. 13 to Dec. 19. Those cases comprise about 55 per cent of the 347 cases confirmed so far this week in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington region.

With the 282 cases discovered at Queen’s University the previous week, that brings the total number of cases discovered at the university to just under 500 cases in the month of December.

Queen’s University has confirmed that a large number of the cases were associated with varsity sports teams, but while B.C.’s Medical Officer of Health Bonnie Henry blamed a rugby tournament on Queen’s campus in November for a slew of campus outbreaks across the country, Queen’s University maintained that the connection had not been confirmed.

“On December 8, KFL&A Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak impacted Queen’s varsity sports community, and suspended all varsity training until further notice. That outbreak was not directly related to any sports competitions or on-campus facilities,” the university said in a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

“In November, Queen’s hosted both a University Sports Women’s Rugby Championship (November 10-14), and a Rugby Canada – Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (November 24-28). KFL&A Public Health has not declared an outbreak related to either national championship,” the university asserted in the statement.

“The university employed very stringent COVID-19 protocols and safety measures while the athletes and supporting staff were on campus,” the statement continued. “Students and staff had to meet all vaccination requirements and were rapid tested upon arrival and twice more during the tournaments. Everyone was required to mask while not on the field, physically distance from fans, teams used separate exits/entrance, and gatherings on the field were not permitted.”

On Dec. 10, the University confirmed an outbreak in the wider student community and implemented additional health and safety precautions and recommended testing for students. On Dec. 13, after pressure from students about the rapidly rising number of cases on campus, the University announced it was discontinuing in-person exams.

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