Province to review gym guidelines as COVID-19 outbreak at Hamilton spin studio hits 72 cases
Spinco says it's temporarily closing its spin studios in 'affected' areas of Ontario
After a COVID-19 outbreak at a Hamilton spin studio that's infected at least 72 people, Ontario's associate medical officer of health has directed the province to "reconsider" guidelines meant to stop the spread of the virus in fitness settings.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe said she's spoken with local public health officials about the outbreak at Spinco Hamilton and recommended the current directions for gyms be reexamined.
"Even though they followed guidelines, there was obviously significant transmission, so I think we do need to review the guidelines and that's in process," she told reporters during a media update at Queen's Park on Wednesday.
Forty-seven primary cases (45 patrons, two staff members) and 25 secondary "household spread" cases, such as friends, family or other contacts, have been linked to the James Street North location as of Thursday.
It's an increase of three over the day before.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health, previously said that no one connected to the outbreak had been hospitalized.
About three quarters of those infected are female and roughly one quarter are male, Richardson said, and their ages range from late teens to late 50s.
The public health unit asked the province to review its guidelines and agreed with Dr. Yaffe after talking with her about plans to reconsider them, said spokesperson Jacqueline Durlov.
"The SPINCO outbreak definitely showed us the potential risks of this type of activity and will likely contribute to a change in guidelines and practices moving forward."
Durlov added public health has not updated its guidelines yet, but said in the meantime it's recommending people consider wearing masks in classes and avoid playing music so coaches and participants don't need to yell.
Officials are also calling for anyone feeling sick in any way, even if their symptoms are mild, not to attend classes.
Spinco pauses classes at most Ontario locations
Following the outbreak, Spinco has announced it's temporarily closing its spin studios in "affected" regions of Ontario.
The company operates seven locations, including three in Toronto, one in Oakville and one in Ottawa. Online schedules at each of those studios showed classes had been cancelled as of Thursday morning.
Only the schedule for Spinco's Waterloo location continues to show classes.
A spokesperson for the company told CBC News that Spinco would not provide an interview, instead sending a statement from founder Michelle August and saying it would not be making any further comments.
In it, she stressed that the company has "embraced our responsibility as operators" during the COVID-19 pandemic and used "robust and disciplined" strategies to try to stop the spread of the virus.
An 'ongoing battle' with COVID-19
Local public health officials have also said the studio followed all the necessary guidelines, including directing riders to wear masks when not on bikes, physical distancing and enhanced sanitization.
"We are proud that our efforts have resulted in zero reported outbreaks across our other 17 studios," August wrote, before acknowledging that the dozens of positive cases linked to the Hamilton location show more must be done to modify their approach to safety.
"While Spinco is certainly devastated that these cases have unfolded at one of our locations, we view this as part of our ongoing battle with a virus that is constantly changing, seemingly hourly."