COVID-19 outbreak at University of Windsor residence after 18 students go to Halloween party

A University of Windsor residence is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak following a Halloween party, the local health unit reported Tuesday. 

So far, 5 students have tested positive for COVID-19

A residence at the University of Windsor is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, with five confirmed cases of the disease. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

A University of Windsor residence is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak following a Halloween party, the local health unit reported Tuesday. 

Eighteen students from the same residence attended the party, and five of them have since tested positive for COVID-19. One of the five had visited a region outside of Windsor-Essex before going to the party. Health experts now believe that is where the person contracted COVID-19. The other 13 who attended the party are now self-isolating. 

"These social gatherings are happening more frequently," medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said. "People should not think social gatherings are a benign or a low-risk event." 

The earliest symptom onset began Nov. 6 and all of the infected individuals are 18 years old. 

The health unit would not confirm which university residence is in outbreak. 

In a news release Tuesday, the university said it has "implemented extensive additional cleaning protocols." It also said the affected students have been moved out of their residence and into a different building at an undisclosed location.

"This is a strong reminder to our student community that we cannot become complacent with our protocols and guidelines during this pandemic. There is simply too much at stake and we need to be stringent now more than ever," said University of Windsor president Rob Gordon in the release. 

"We all need to be responsible and consider how our behaviour today may affect our friends, family, and members of the larger community tomorrow."

Complacency irritates fellow student

Claire Gorey, a masters of biology student at the University of Windsor, told CBC News she was irritated when she heard about the party and the outbreak that followed.

"I think it's not a good representation of what's usually depicted at the University of Windsor," she said.

"In a small area like Windsor-Essex — it's easier for people to get complacent because they're like, 'Oh well, what's the chances I'll run into somebody who has it?'" she continued. "It's easier to think that way and rationalize going to a party, but if everyone thinks like that we're in for a lot of trouble."

As for the four students from the university's Faculty of Nursing who were reported to have COVID-19 Sunday night, Ahmed said those are being classified as a cluster. The students all live together and the health unit could not confirm how they contracted the disease. 

The nursing student from St. Clair College is a separate case. 

All of the nursing students were attending placements at Windsor Regional Hospital. Placements for most of the students have now been temporarily suspended

As a result of these cases the hospital says they have recommended that 28 people be tested, 15 of these are staff members and 13 are patients. There have been no positive cases at this time. 

Region sees 1-day drop in COVID-19 cases

The health unit also reported a one-day drop in COVID-19 cases Tuesday after 67 cases were reported over the last four days. 

The region has six new cases of COVID-19, according to a news release from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Three of the cases are close contacts of a previously-confirmed case, one is work-related travel to the U.S. and two others are still being investigated. 

There are 99 active cases in the region. 

Four long-term care and retirement homes are in outbreak, including: 

  • Berkshire Care Center in Windsor, which has two staff cases. 
  • Riverside Place in Windsor, which has two staff cases. 
  • Lifetimes on Riverside, which has four resident cases and four staff cases. 
  • Iller Lodge in Essex, which has four resident cases and one staff case. 

The local pandemic status is still set to medium or orange. 


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