Norovirus outbreak suspected at B.C. student conference
Illnesses began after buffet dinner
Dozens of people ill in a suspected outbreak of norovirus at a student journalism conference in Victoria are under voluntary quarantine in their hotel rooms.
About 60 of the 360 people attending the Canadian University Press's annual NASH conference for student journalists are in voluntary isolation Sunday at the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites in downtown Victoria, delegate Emma Godmere told CBC News.
Godmere, who also fell ill, said paramedics attended the hotel early Sunday morning. Several others went to hospital overnight with what's believed to be norovirus.
Laura Brown of The Aquinian, a student newspaper at Fredericton's St. Thomas University, said that five out of 10 of the paper's staff at the conference have symptoms of norovirus, which include vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, headaches and muscle aches.
"B.C. Public Health ... suggested that based on the evidence that we were sharing with them and the fast spread of what this was, that we're looking at norovirus. It hasn't exactly been confirmed by anyone yet but that's the assumption that we're working with now," said Godmere, CUP's national bureau chief from Toronto.
Delegates had a buffet dinner at the hotel and then boarded buses for an event at the University of Victoria. People started getting sick on the buses, said Jonny Wakefield, a University of British Columbia student. He said three people from his student newspaper fell ill.
"First it was just the one guy who threw up on the back of my head, so for a while I was angry at him. Then I found out everyone else was throwing up as well," said delegate Brennan Bova. The post-dinner event was cancelled.
Most out-of-town delegates were to return home on Sunday, but those who are sick have been asked not to leave the hotel. It's caused some rebooking headaches for the students.
"According to the messages that the conference co-ordinator has been sending us, it's not an official quarantine under B.C. Health, so WestJet can't give us any accommodation," said Brown.
The 74th NASH conference began Wednesday and ended Sunday in Victoria. It was hosted by the Martlet, the student newspaper at the University of Victoria, and the Nexus, the paper for students at Camosun College.