‘We have active cases in this population now in our community’: University confirms Queen’s student tested positive for COVID-19

Public health is contact tracing 40 people after new positive case of COVID-19

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Dr. Kieran Moore said he was “very disappointed” with the off-campus student activity in the University District.

This story was updated with new information on Sept. 16 at 8:30 p.m.

KFL&A Public Health confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 in women in their twenties on Tuesday. 

While the University originally told The Journal it had been advised by KFL&A Public Health of a confirmed positive COVID-19 case this week for a Queen’s student living off-campus, it clarified in a later email the student informed the University.

“[KFL&A] would have confirmed the result to the student, but the student confirmed to the University, not KFLAPH,” the University wrote.

The University also said it has “no information on the second case.”

“Contact tracing is being conducted by KFL&APH and any close contacts are being contacted directly by Public Health,” the University wrote.  “The student has followed all appropriate protocols and is self-isolating, and Public Health deems the situation to be low risk.”

In a move to prioritize the enforcement of COVID-19 prevention guidelines, City Council voted to increase fines for nuisance behaviour at a meeting on Sept. 15. 

The Administrative Monetary Penalties, which had been established at a City Council meeting on Aug. 11, were raised from $500 to $2,000 in an effort to deter large gatherings in the city.

“London has experienced an outbreak in their community of students that are off-campus, and we’re experiencing that now,” Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer of health and CEO of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, told Council.

“We have active cases in this population now in our community. This week we are actively investigating a case in the downtown community of that age group who had 20, 30, 40 contacts that we are hunting down this week.”

Moore said he’d have further information on the matter later in the week.

READ MORE: Queen’s opens COVID-19 testing centre on campus

Though Moore praised Queen’s for preparing residences and the academic environment for the pandemic and “following best practices” on prevention control, he said he was “very disappointed” with the off-campus student activity in the University District.

“I have a faculty position at Queen’s,” Moore said. “I know many faculty members at Queen’s are deeply disappointed.”

Moore is pushing Queen’s to enforce its code of conduct on students who disregard the public health guidelines to maintain small social networks and practice physical distancing.

READ MORE: Kingston Police respond to 255 noise complaints in University district in two weeks

The code of conduct allows the University to expel or suspend students who violate municipal, provincial, or federal legislation as a means of discipline. 

He also asked “the 95 per cent” of students who are adhering to small social gatherings to put pressure both on those who are acting out on the streets and on the University administration to enforce greater COVID-19 discipline. 

Regarding McMaster University’s decision to maintain remote learning during the winter term, Moore said that’s “something Queen’s should be reviewing very soon.”

“If we had to look ahead, we’re in a difficult period for the next 8-10 months,” Moore said. “[B]ringing more students back, or even thinking that we’re going to be able to have more in-person classes—I don’t think that’s an appropriate decision.”  

Students who report feeling ill should self-isolate and contact Public Health. More information on appropriate protocols is available on Queen’s COVID-19 Information website at www.queensu.ca/covidinfo.

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City of Kingston, Covid-19

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