Kitchener-Waterloo

University of Guelph COVID-19 outbreak rises to 60 cases

A COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Guelph has risen to 60 cases. Meanwhile, the medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph says she's starting to see the curve bend when it comes to local cases.

Overall, Dr. Nicola Mercer says community is 'seeing the curve bend' for new cases

The COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Guelph has risen to 57 cases, public health says. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

An outbreak of COVID-19 at the University of Guelph has risen to 60 cases, the university reports.

The school says it will increase "measures, monitoring and enforcement" after students gathered for "unsanctioned gatherings" in residence buildings earlier this month.

In a statement earlier this week, the university said mostly "first-year domestic students" attended parties at the East Village Townhouses on January 15 and 16. So far, 32 people have been fined $120 each for attending.

Approximately 200 students of the 840 currently living in residence are in isolation.

While the university grapples with the outbreak, the medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says the general case trends in the community look good.

"We are seeing the curve bend in our region and across the province," Dr. Nicola Mercer said in an emailed statement. "That is positive news and shows the contributions and sacrifices we are all making are working. We must remain vigilant — especially with the arrival of variant strains of COVID-19 in Ontario. I urge everyone to keep following public health guidelines."

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reported 34 new cases on Thursday with 407 active cases. There are 10 people in hospital.

No in-class learning for elementary, high school yet

On Thursday, the province announced more school boards would be able to return to elementary and high school classrooms on Monday. It includes boards near London and Ottawa, but it did not include any schools in the area covered by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

Earlier in the month, Mercer had ordered schools to remain closed until Feb. 1. She says it's not within her power to order them open, even if she thinks the community is at a place where that could happen.

"We will wait for further instruction from the province on when in-person instruction may resume in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph," Mercer said.

"Public health will continue to work with the provincial government and our education partners to return to in-person instruction as soon as it is safe. My continued thanks and support go out to everyone doing the hard work of remote learning during this time."

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