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Queen’s responds to new COVID-19 case and issues of partying

Queen’s University campus. Kingstonist file photo.

Queen’s University has confirmed that another student within residence has tested positive for COVID-19, marking five cases confirmed this week within the University community.

On Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addingston (KFL&A) Public Health confirmed three new cases of the virus in the region. One of those cases, a male under the age of 20, is a student at Queen’s living in residence, the University confirmed.

“Queen’s has been advised by KFL&A Public Health of a new positive case of COVID-19 in residence. The student is following appropriate protocols and is self-isolating,” the University said in a statement to Kingstonist. “The University is working closely with KFL&A Public Health and contact tracing staff will connect with any close contacts they determine should be tested and or asked to self-isolate.”

This comes the same day KFL&A Public Health announced that a party held within the University District on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 had been linked to at least five recently-confirmed cases of COVID-19. It also comes one day after the University confirmed that a gathering of up to 70 or 80 students had to be dispersed by Campus Security more than once on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. That gathering took place outside David C. Smith House, a residence house on campus that is currently being used for students who are self-isolating. Queen’s would not say if the new case is related to either of these gatherings, nor would they disclose which residence building the student is staying in.

“The health and safety of our students, staff, faculty and the entire Kingston community is a key concern. Today’s news from Public Health that five recent cases can be traced back to a large gathering in the community illustrates the importance of following Public Health guidelines – especially those governing group gatherings. Large gatherings make contact tracing by officials difficult and risk wider spread of the virus. The university continues to work closely with KFL&A Public Health as well as its municipal partners to educate students about local and provincial public health requirements and to support their enforcement,” Queen’s said in a statement.

The University is stressing that students in residence should continue to self-monitor and familiarize themselves with their COVID-19 Residence Student Isolation Protocol, and that all other students and staff should continue to self-monitor and if experiencing symptoms utilize the online assessment tool.

“As conveyed by KFL&A Public Health, it is extremely important that anyone who may have attended a large gathering off campus on September 18, or has been in contact with someone who was, or suspects they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, follow Public Health guidelines to self-isolate and get tested in order to prevent any further spread,” Queen’s said.

Over the past weekend alone (Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020), Kingston Police responded to 55 noise complaint calls within the University District. Police also issued seven Administrative Monetary Penalties (five for amplification, one for obstructing police, and one for failure to comply), and issued nine Liquor Licence Act charges (one of which was for public intoxication). Kingston Police Media Relations Officer, Const. Ash Gutheinz, confirmed that police were called to an address in the 500 block of Johnson Street on Friday, Sept. 18, but said that the crowd had dispersed by the time police arrived. Kingston Police were not called to the gathering outside of David C. Smith House.

The latest five cases of COVID-19 at Queen’s University brings the total number of positive cases within the Queen’s community to 15 since Monday, Aug. 31, 2020.

Dr. Kieran Moore has indicated that discussions between the University and Public Health are actively ongoing, and said that he has suggested the idea of a curfew for those students in residence buildings on campus.

There are currently 19 active cases of COVID-19 in the KFL&A region, a vast majority of which are within Kingston.

Please note that Kingstonist’s COVID-19 Quick Reference Guide is updated daily to reflect the most recent data from KFL&A Public Health and the Ontario Ministry of Health.

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