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Public Health declares COVID-19 outbreak in Kingston’s University District

Hundreds of young people filled Breakwater Park along King Street on Thursday, Apr. 8, 2021 – the first day of the new Provincial stay-at-home orders,and the same day KFL&A Public Health declared an outbreak in the nearby University District. Photo by Logan Cadue.

On Thursday, Apr. 8, 2021, Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak within Kingston’s University District associated with Queen’s University.

The outbreak was declared among young adults aged 18 to 29 years of age, as they currently make up over 70 per cent of the active cases in KFL&A  region. In this age group in the City of Kingston’s University District, there are 70 active cases of COVID-19, Public Health relayed in a press release on the same date.

“KFL&A Public Health’s investigations have revealed transmission is occurring during close, unprotected contact between individuals in social settings (including large gatherings) where physical distancing is limited, and face coverings are not being worn,” the Health Unit said.

These cases are rising quickly as the result of COVID-19 variants, which are more easily transmitted in social settings, can cause greater severity of disease, and are impacting younger individuals. According to Public Health, risk of ICU admission is two times higher and the risk of death is 1.5 times higher in COVID-19 cases involving variants of concern.

“We are facing a critical time in the fight against this virus. We are putting all measures in place, including stronger enforcement of the provincial shutdown and stay-at-home restrictions to limit the spread of this outbreak,” Dr. Moore said in a statement. “Fines will be given if provincial restrictions are not adhered to—stay home, limit social interactions to those in your household, and avoid unnecessary trips outside your home.”

Meanwhile, at the exact same time, hundreds of young people crammed onto the beachfront park at Breakwater Park, which sits just across and down the road from Kingston General Hospital – the largest hospital in the region, which is currently dealing with 16 COVID-19 cases and a packed ICU.

Nonetheless, Moore underlined the urgency of the situation at hand.

“These are not normal circumstances with the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 variants, we urge young adults to act in a responsible and conscientious way to protect others in our community,” he said.

The following is a list of instructions provided by KFL&A Public Health during the current Emergency Brake and Stay-at-Home Orders:

  • Stay at home.
  • Limit close contact to your household (the people you live with).
  • Limit trips outside your home to necessities such as: getting food or medication, going to medical appointments, or enjoying exercise or walking pets.
  • Avoid social gatherings, visiting others, or having others visit you and stay overnight. 
  • If you have any symptoms of illness—stay home, isolate, and get tested early.
  • If someone in your household is symptomatic, they need to get tested and everyone else in the household must isolate until a negative test result is back.
  • Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with, and wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces or any time physical distancing is not possible.
  • Stay local and avoid non-essential travel outside of the KFL&A region.

Ted Hsu for MPP
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