Kingston region moves into yellow zone

Queen’s reporting 70 active cases of COVID-19

Queen’s reported 60 new cases of COVID-19 last week.
Journal File Photo

The Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) region has moved into the yellow zone today due to the rapidly increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in the community.

Queen’s reported 60 new cases of COVID-19 last week, including four in residence and 56 off campus. 

There are 70 active cases in the Queen’s community, according to the University’s case tracker. Fourteen of these cases have been identified in residence and the remaining 56 are all off campus.

The Queen’s community has accounted for 20.4 per cent of the region’s positive COVID-19 cases since Aug. 31.

There were 73 active cases in the Kingston region as of March 19, including 31 confirmed variant of concern cases. KFL&A Public Health had not yet published updated numbers at time of publication.

“50 per cent of the samples across Ontario are testing positive for the variants of concern, Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health at KFL&A Public Health, said in a statement on Sunday. “In KFL&A, as of today, it’s 70 per cent of the tests coming back for variants of concern, most likely that’s the B.1.1.7 variant.”

The B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in the KFL&A region in late January.

“I’m very concerned if that’s going to become the dominant strain in our community because it can spread more rapidly and it may have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality associated with it.” 

READ MORE: Public Health says widespread variant transmission catalyzed extended Class Order

Moore stressed the importance of adhering to small social gatherings to help the community limit the spread of this virus. The revised Class Order restricting indoor and outdoor gatherings to five people also takes effect today and is set to be in place until April 30.

“We all have a role to play to decrease the risk of this virus. It’s taking off across Ontario and we’re no different. It’s starting to take off in KFL&A,” Moore said. 

“The next several weeks will tell where we’re going to head in KFL&A, and I’m asking sincerely: please, please, please decrease the number of social contacts you have. Decrease the risks for you and your family to acquire the virus at this time.”

The City of Kingston also closed the Gord Downie pier on March 22. 

Queen’s has restricted all retail food outlets on campus, including the Grad Club and Common Ground, to takeout service only. Each operator has the option to remain open with the restrictions, or to close. 

Casual seating areas in the John Deustch University Centre (JDUC), all retail food areas in the Queen’s Centre, and casual seating in Mackintosh-Corry Hall are closed. The University Club also remains closed.

READ MORE: COVID-19 & Queen's: One year later

Residence dining hall operations—including inside dining, take-out, and online ordering—are unaffected by the move into the yellow zone. Location 21 and the Lazy Scholar remain open.

Bookable study spaces in Stauffer Library, Douglas Library and Mackintosh-Corry Hall remain available for use, as well as faculty-specific spaces, as these spaces are controlled to ensure compliance with Public Health protocols.

“The arrival of variants within our community is cause for much concern and we are going to do our part to help prevent further spread of the virus on our campus and beyond,” Mark Green, provost and vice-principal (academic), said in a March 18 statement.

“Today, Public Health confirmed the virus is now spreading in small social circles, rather than through any large gatherings,” Green said. “We are grateful to the vast majority of our students who have been staying home and limiting their contact with others. This was particularly apparent over the past few days as this is a time of year where we usually see St. Patrick’s Day gatherings.”

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