Long lines at testing centre as community outbreak declared in London

The Middlesex-London Health Unit declared a community COVID-19 outbreak. Five Western University students have tested positive over the weekend. 

5 students from Western University tested positive over the weekend

Vehicles were lined up down the street to get a COVID-19 test at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre on Sunday. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News )

 The Middlesex-London Health Unit has declared a community outbreak after five Western University students tested positive for COVID-19.

Three of the cases were confirmed Saturday and two Sunday, according to a news release issued by the MLHU. It said the cases are related and will be added to the city's case count on Monday.

According to the health unit, a community outbreak is one that could be spread across the whole community or through a defined sub-group where there is no specific facility, such as a retirement home, linked to the outbreak. 

While the infected students have not attended classes or activities on campus, they have been to downtown bars and restaurants, and socialized with students in neighbouring housing units, the health unit said. It expects there to be more cases in the coming days. 

"If we ever needed evidence to show there's still a risk from COVID-19 in the community, this is it," said Dr. Chris Mackie, London's medical officer of health in a statement.

"We know the temptation to get back together with friends and party is great but it is crucial that we all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19," he said.

The health unit is advising anyone who has visited downtown bars and restaurants to monitor themselves for symptoms.

The health unit said it is working with Western University to support the infected students, as well as any other students who need testing or to be quarantined as a result of contact with the students who tested positive.

Long line at Carling Heights assessment centre 

On Sunday a long line of cars were waiting outside the city's only open assessment centre: the Carling Heights Optimist Centre.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said the lengthy wait was partly due to a staffing shortage at that location.

Many of the cars in line at the Carling Heights Optimist Centre were filled with young people looking to get tested.

CBC spoke with a dozen of them. 

Some were families getting tested because they wanted to ensure they were beginning the school year free of COVID-19, especially as their social bubbles were about to expand with the addition of their kids' classmates. 

Others said they were getting tested as a precaution as the university school year gets underway. 

I'm worried, but ... we should have been more careful- Mia, Western student who was at Lost Love on Sept. 9

"Even just walking around, there's always people around wherever you are," said Andrew, a third year student at Western. "It just seems like the right thing to do, whether it's weekly, I'll probably be here just making sure," he said. 

Riley, a third year student at Western, wasn't experiencing any symptoms, but wanted peace of mind. 

"We heard that there could have been possibly somebody that one of us came in contact to that could have had it. So, rather be safe than sorry."

Other students waiting in line were at Lost Love on Wednesday and wanted to get tested as soon as possible. 

"I'm worried, but at the end of the day, I mean, we should have been more careful," said Mia, a Western student from Windsor. 

"Everyone was so excited to go back and you do feel a sense of being invincible. And then something like this really just snaps you right out of it," she said. 

Downtown nightclubs see positive cases 

The community outbreak, and run on testing, comes as two popular London nightclubs confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus. 

Lost Love Social House shut down for the weekend after a recent customer advised they had tested positive for the virus. 

The downtown nightclub wrote on Facebook that as a precautionary measure it would be closed on Sept. 12 for a deep-clean and to give employees time to seek testing and self-isolate. 

"As far as we know, this was the only case and we were alerted by that individual. If you were at the venue on Wednesday, Sept. 9 we encourage you to also have a test done," the Facebook post said.

The case at Lost Love comes after a patron at another popular downtown bar, El Furniture Warehouse on Richmond Row, had tested positive for COVID-19. They were in the bar on Sept. 7, officials said. 

Lost Love Social House is asking anyone who visited the downtown bar on Wednesday to seek testing and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. (Lost Love Social House/ Facebook)

With files from the CBC's Kate Dubinski