27 cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Boucherville day camp

Positive cases were found in staff and children at Ateliers de Charlot l'Escargot, according to the regional health authority.

Positive cases found among staff and children at Charlot l'Escargot day camp

At last count, 27 children and staff have tested positive and everyone who has been to the Charlot l'Escargot day camp is being asked to stay home. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

South Shore public health authorities say 27 children and staff who were at a day camp have tested positive for COVID-19.

In a letter sent to parents and people on a mailing list for the camp, the CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre said it suspects even more transmissions via asymptomatic carriers may have happened at Charlot l'Escargot.

The document, sent Tuesday, said 28 people had tested positive for the virus. Public health changed that number to 27 one day later, saying the number had been modified after analysis. 

CBC has seen detailed minutes of a meeting held on Sunday between public health officials and the parents of children who attended the camp. The document says they are looking to identify more cases in the coming days. 

Public health said the cases include only day-camp staff and attendees. Some children who attended the camp have transmitted the disease to their relatives, but authorities are not including those cases in the count, for privacy reasons.

Last week, regional health authorities began investigating after a counsellor and multiple children who were at the camp tested positive for the virus.

All children and employees who were at the day camp between July 13 and July 21 must isolate at home for a minimum of 14 days from the last time they attended day camp.

They are also being asked to call 811 or 1-877-644-4545, and a screening clinic primarily for children who attended the day camp has been set up, the letter said.

Charlot l'Escargot is closed for another 14 days due to the outbreak. 

Masks worn, physical distance rules maintained

Benjamin, whose last name CBC is not publishing due to privacy reasons, is the parent of one of the children who tested positive after attending the day camp the week of July 6 and July 13. He contracted the disease himself shortly afterward.

His daughter is completely asymptomatic, but Benjamin says he is feeling all the symptoms of COVID-19.

"It's bad," he said.

Benjamin said he received an email on July 19 informing him that his daughter was at light risk of contracting COVID-19 and that he should watch her for symptoms. He says he was not asked to keep his daughter in quarantine.

Two days later, he received another email saying his daughter was now considered at moderate risk, and that she needed to self-isolate immediately. 

Benjamin said he thought hygiene measures at the day camp were "top notch," with physical distancing measures in place and masks being worn.

He says this has shown him how everyone is still at risk of contracting the virus, "even if you take all the proper steps."

Officials may have believed that children were poor vectors of the disease, he said, but he feels maybe this case may have proved otherwise.

"Here, it was maybe not the right decision. Maybe they have to review the policy now."

Incident raises 'red flags', but not enough to close down day camps

Gaston De Serres, a epidemiologist at Quebec's public health institute (INSPQ) said though the case certainly raises "red flags," there are hundreds of day camps in the province that are open daily without similar outbreaks.

"It's dangerous to get to conclusions based on one event, even if it's a substantial event," he said, noting that officials are watching the situation in different day camps closely to see if other outbreaks are occurring.

If the situation in Boucherville repeats itself in other day camps, there will be more discussions about measures to decrease risks, or to close down the day camps entirely, said De Serres.

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