Bishop’s outbreak one of 80 across the region

By Gordon Lambie
Bishop’s outbreak one of 80 across  the region
(Photo : Matthew McCully)

Bishop’s University suspended all in-person activities on campus for a period of five days on Friday after seven new cases brought the total count within the campus community to 15.
“We have decided to suspend most in-person activities until Wednesday morning, November 25, to allow us time to fully assess the situation,” read a message to the community from Stine Linden-Andersen, the school’s Dean of Student Affairs and Chair of Bishop’s University’s COVID-19 Task Force.
The dean noted that individuals who tested positive, as well as anyone who has been in close contact with them and anyone else considered to be at increased risk, have already been placed in isolation.
“If you have not been contacted you are not considered to be at increased risk.” The message reads.
Linden-Andersen’s memo also notes that an external cleaning company was hired to conduct a deep clean of affected areas, and that free taxi vouchers are being provided to students who want to get tested but don’t have the means to get to the testing centre themselves.
Asked about situation at Bishop’s on Monday afternoon, regional Public Health Director Dr. Alain Poirier said that anyone living in a communal environment needs to be careful about spread within their home.
“Even if classes are being given at a distance, we need to be careful in these spaces,” he said.
Poirier also said that reporting on the outbreak at the university has been complicated by the fact that students were putting home addresses in other regions on their forms when going to get tested, rather than their local coordinates. As a result, test results were being relayed to those regions rather than being recorded locally.
“It is important for them to give the actual information about where they live,” he said.
There are currently 80 outbreaks being monitored across the region.
The Estrie region reported 62 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The new cases were spread across all sectors within the region, although the highest concentrations of positive confirmations coming from the Sherbrooke, the Haute Yamaska, and La Pommeraie local health networks.
Poirier noted a particular rise in the Sherbrooke area, pointing out that almost 40 per cent of the new cases in the Estrie since Saturday were in the city.
According to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec there were 590 known active cases of COVID-19 in the Estrie on Monday.
Despite the ongoing rise, the number of local hospitalizations decreased by two to 25, and the number of people in intensive care also decreased by two, to five. The number of deaths remained stable compared to the previous day, at 54, and 3,509 of the 4,153 who have caught the virus in the region are considered to have recovered.
The public health director also said that about three out of every five cases in the region right now is under the age of 40, even if it is the people over 40 who represent 96 per cent of hospitalizations, and 100 per cent of deaths in the region since the start of the pandemic.
Poirier acknowledged that there is lingering concern about the increase of over 100 new cases in one day on Sunday and said that there is a hypothesis in the local healthcare network that the sharp rise can be linked to the announcement that the region would become a red zone. While emphasizing that it is a theory, he held the bump in numbers as a warning for people who are considering going to many gatherings during the four-day holiday window proposed by the provincial government last week.
Speaking to the local number, Nancy Desautels, the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS’ Associate Director of Emergency Measures, Civil Security and Organizational issues said that while the region will be keeping up its testing schedule through the holiday season, it is important for people to get tested “at the right time.”
Looking at the results of contact tracing, Desautels said there is a trend of symptomatic people waiting too long to be tested and causing cascade infections. On the other end of the spectrum, she pointed out that too many people getting tested when asymptomatic puts a strain on the system that slows down results.
The Province of Quebec reported another 1,164 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, along with 13 new deaths. The total number of hospitalisations decreased by eight to 634 and the number of people in intensive care decreased by five to 98.

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