Queen’s COVID-19 response lead addresses AMS Assembly

Students encouraged to take responsible actions

Dr. David Walker at AMS Assembly on Thursday night.
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AMS Assembly gathered on Thursday night to hear from Dr. David Walker, Queen’s recently appointed COVID-19 response lead. Earlier in the day, Queen’s suspended all University-sponsored international travel.
 
“We need to be prepared for this,” Walker said at Assembly, adding that the University wants to ensure all vital operational and academic functions can carry on as best as possible.
 
“There is actually an ultimate point to this, and you’ll understand and I think you do understand, and that is to protect our healthcare system from a surge that it could not meet.”
 
He warned that if a student feels sick with any symptoms, they should stay home. 
 
“That’s the first rule of thumb, and that’s how Canada’s being so successful in capturing people who have the first signs of this illness.”
 
Walker emphasized that so far, there are no positive cases in southeastern Ontario, and no positive cases in Kingston. “We don’t need to panic about anything, nobody here has this.”
 
He acknowledged, however, that community spread has begun in Vancouver and Toronto. “I will say for people of your age group, this is a mild illness.”
 
He said the fatality rate is currently estimated to be two per cent, with the elderly being the most vulnerable. “They get this really badly. It’s grandparents and people in nursing homes.”
 
Walker added Queen’s community would be more affected if a staff member, faculty member or student was tested positive. 
 
“We don’t see children generally getting sick with this.” The only treatment for the illness is oxygen and, if needed, a ventilator. There are currently 68 ventilators at Kingston General Hospital (KGH). 
 
“We have instigated some other changes,” Walker said. For instance, international exchanges are cancelled. Students who come back from exchange will be accommodated with academic considerations. 
 
During Walker’s presentation, assembly members also questioned whether campus buildings will be closed in the event that classes become virtual. In response, Walker referenced laboratories and residence buildings. “We can’t just shut the door of the university and walk away,” he said.  
 
Vice-presidents’ report 
 
Jessica Dahanayake, vice-president (Operations), updated assembly on Queen’s Period and other AMS services. 
 
Over the past month, Queen’s Period has been working on placing pads and tampons at more locations around campus. According to Dahanayake, the added locations include library bathrooms. 
 
Similarly, the AMS and the club have also been working to integrate “menstruation for education.” 
 
William Greene, vice-president (University Affairs), also addressed the outbreak of COVID-19. 
 
“We are working very closely with Dr. Walker and the Institution of Public Health, and we will continue over the next 72 hours to the next three months,” Greene said. 
 
During the Assembly, students were also strongly encouraged to reach out to Alex da Silva, the rector, and Auston Pierce, AMS president, if any questions or concerns arise about COVID-19. 
 
With files from Ellen Nagy. 
 

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