'Unsanctioned social gatherings' blamed for COVID outbreak in Guelph
KITCHENER -- The University of Guelph says "unsanctioned social gatherings" have resulted in a COVID-19 outbreak at one of its residences.
Officials are calling for anyone who attended the gatherings to isolate and get tested.
According to university officials, there are seven cases linked to the outbreak at this time – all connected to the East Village Townhouses.
U of G officials said there were upwards of 50 people at the gatherings. They don't know if everyone in attendance was a student, since they were unsanctioned.
Campus police responded and fines will be issued to the students involved.
A notice on the U of G's website says the cases are associated with unsanctioned gatherings on Jan. 15 and 16. They anticipate more positive cases in the future and say they're working closely with public health officials.
They say anyone who went to the gatherings should self-isolate immediately and seek testing.
According to university officials, students are supposed to wear masks when they're not in their rooms and not gather in other peoples' units. Lounges are closed and washrooms are all for single-use only. Visitors aren't allowed in the residence spaces.
Student housing is cohorting anyone who has tested positive for the disease.
“We understand that the declaration of an outbreak in a campus residence is concerning,” said Carrie Chassels, vice-provost of student affairs, in a news release. “We want to assure all members of our U of G community that the health and safety of our students and employees is our top priority."
Chassels said the university will follow outbreak protocol as laid out by WDG Public Health.
She said the university is investigating the gatherings and initiating disciplinary action.
“We were extremely disappointed to learn that there were gatherings on campus, ” Chassels said.
“The students involved in this high-risk activity have shown a serious lack of judgment and care for community protocols around COVID-19. Participating in a gathering on campus is a violation of the current lockdown regulations and health guidelines, as well as the expectations that we conveyed to students in residence.”
The university has increased efforts to remind students about public health measures in place and it will work with public health, bylaw offices and police to make sure students are following those regulations.
"Please don’t attend any other social gatherings," said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph's medical officer of health. "We know that this is tough, we know that having a stay at home order is difficult, especially when you’re in a younger age group, but you can see what happens."