Brock working with Public Health as COVID-19 outbreak declared

Brock University is continuing to take the steps necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 within its on-campus student residences.

Niagara Region Public Health on Friday, March 26 declared an outbreak in Brock’s self-contained residence units, where 12 positive cases of COVID-19 have now been identified.

After learning the number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 went from one on Wednesday, March 24 to 10 on Thursday, Brock University moved from Brock Stage 2 (Red/Control) back to Brock Stage 1 (Grey/Lockdown), a move supported by Public Health.

“The University has taken swift and immediate action in consultation with Niagara Public Health to address the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff given these developments,” said Brock President Gervan Fearon. “We want to thank Niagara Region Public Health for their guidance and support as we all work together to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to support the recovery of the affected students who are now in isolation.”

The move back to Stage 1 means the few classes that were being offered on campus have now moved online until at least Monday, April 5, when a further update will be provided. Additionally, on-campus common areas such as the James A. Gibson Library, Computer Commons and all athletic facilities, which had been operating under strict COVID protocols, have temporary closed while contact tracing and further investigation continues.

The outbreak seems to be specifically centred around social activities of students over the previous week. The University and campus health services are working closely with Public Health to manage the outbreak investigation. Public Health is currently contact tracing and ensuring everyone who may have been exposed is notified and received proper guidance around testing and isolating. A number of students living in Brock residences are now isolating in on-campus, self-contained quarantine residence units, which had been set aside by the University as part of its pandemic planning.

“Brock University has responded immediately to the outbreak on campus, and such swift action is key to controlling COVID-19 effectively,” said Acting Medical officer of Health, Mustafa Hirji. “With COVID-19 resurgent once again in Ontario and Niagara, we can expect more outbreaks. I urge everyone to limit interaction with persons outside of your household to just those that are truly essential. Only by immediately redoubling our vigilance to limiting social contact can we avoid a devastating third wave.”

Public Health and Brock University want to assure everyone that there has been no exposure to the upcoming vaccination clinic site. The Region says it is confident that cases among students will have no impact on the safety or operation of clinics next week.

The agreement between Brock and Public Health gives Public Health exclusive use of the areas of campus where the clinic is located, so the clinic site is completely separated from the rest of the University. Access is granted only by Public Health’s permission. All of the vaccination clinics are maintained with high standards of infection prevention given the vulnerable populations being vaccinated. The clinics also have screening and security at all times to ensure that only those who need to be present are permitted into the clinic area.

The University is reminding students in isolation that they are not allowed to leave these units except in the case of emergency or for the purpose of COVID testing. No guests are allowed in any of the residence units and students must not stand in doorways to converse with others. Incidents of students violating these COVID mitigation policies are being investigated by the University.

The University is supporting students with the delivery of food and other necessary supplies and Residence Life Staff are checking in on those in isolation to offer support in a challenging time.

Any students who are experiencing symptoms or have a concern are asked to contact Student Health Services immediately at covid19@brocku.ca