South Shore day camps close temporarily after COVID-19 outbreaks

Health authority is strongly recommending that all children who attended Charlot l’Escargot day camp in Boucherville last week be tested.

Health authorities recommend kids who attended Charlot l’Escargot get tested

Day camps were given the green light to reopen on June 22. (File photo) (John Hart/The Canadian Press)

Children or counsellors at at least five day camps south of Montreal have tested positive for COVID-19.

The camps are located in Verchères, Sainte-Catherine, Boucherville, Saint-Constant and Mont Saint-Hilaire, in Quebec's Montérégie region.

The latest day camp to report positive cases is Charlot l'Escargot in Boucherville. Regional health authorities are investigating after a counsellor and multiple children who were at the camp last week tested positive for the virus.

The Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de la Montérégie-Centre sent a notice to parents and staff Tuesday, informing them that an epidemiological study is underway to figure out who had been in contact with the positive cases.

It says public health authorities will reach out to those contacts "over the next 72 hours." 

The letter did not specify how many at the camp have tested positive so far. 

Both Charlot l'Escargot and a day camp in Sainte-Catherine are closed until at least Friday.

Five people who either worked at or attended the Sainte-Catherine day camp have tested positive. Public health authorities have already reached out to everyone who may have been in contact with the positive cases, the city said on its website, and they are now in isolation. 

Last week, two children from the same family who had attended day camp in Mont-Saint-Hilaire also tested positive for COVID-19. In a release Sunday, the city said it had contacted the parents of all the children concerned. 

A camp counselor at a day camp in Verchères has also tested positive for COVID-19. Public health authorities told the municipality that the person was not contagious while they were at the camp.

Three other counselors who were in close contact with the person's family are being tested, the municipality says. The camp will be closed until they get the results. 

In Saint-Constant, a day camp employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, but the employee had already been self-isolating since July 10 because someone close to her was confirmed to have the disease. 

Campers and colleagues were informed, and the municipality says the risk of contagion is low. 

Testing recommended

The health authority is asking parents at Charlot l'Escargot to keep their children home until July 31 and monitor them for symptoms. 

It also "strongly recommends" that they get their children tested for COVID-19. 

In a letter to parents Tuesday, Annie Montour, owner of Charlot l'Escargot, said an employee showed symptoms of COVID-19 last week and was sent home. That employee then tested positive Friday.  

Montour said the day camp had strict COVID-19 safety measures in place, including regular temperature checks for employees and children, vigorous hand washing and mandatory face masks. 

"We took all preventative measures and followed public health directives down to the letter since March. We will continue to follow public health directives," Montour told CBC News in a statement Wednesday.

Mathieu Lanthier-Veilleux, a medical assistant at Montérégie public health, says most of the cases in day camps come from young adults working as counselors.

"We're working to remind all counselors to be careful in their social activities outside of work, because it can have an impact on their places of work and their families," Lanthier-Veilleux said. 

Public health authorities are working with day camps to inform families, follow contact-tracing threads and ensure COVID-19 prevention guidelines are being followed. 

"We clearly need to remind people of the measures in place, which is what we're doing now," he said. 

The Montérégie is the province's second-hardest hit region, after Montreal, with 8,462 cases recorded so far. 

The province's day camps have been allowed to reopen since June 22. 

With files from CBC's Kate McKenna and Radio-Canada's Eve Caron

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