UNB closes Fredericton campus after confirmed COVID-19 cases
HALIFAX -- The University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus has been closed to the public after the school learned of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which "may be a variant of concern," according to the school’s President.
“The transmission pattern of the variant in this outbreak is very concerning,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health. “We ask people who have symptoms to get tested and self-isolate until they receive their test results.”
In a news release on Monday, the province says an outbreak has been declared at Magee House - an apartment-style residence at the university in Fredericton. As of Monday, six cases are connected to the outbreak.
"Residents, family members and staff of Magee House were tested Sunday afternoon and are awaiting results," wrote the province in a release.
Government officials also say testing for residents and staff of Elizabeth Parr-Johnston residence will take place on Tuesday due to an exposure of COVID-19. All of these individuals are self-isolating.
In a news release Monday morning, UNB says the campus will be returning to essential services for 72 hours to allow for further assessment of the current situation.
Effective immediately, the following measures have been taken:
- Access to UNB Fredericton campus is prohibited.
- Students living in UNB Fredericton residences are not permitted to leave campus for any reason including returning to their home unless otherwise directed by Public Health.
- Public Health will reach out to anyone who is considered a close contact and will provide further direction.
- Anyone who has one or more symptoms should be tested and self-isolate until results are received by Public Health. Testing can be arranged online or by calling Telecare 811 to make an appointment at your nearest screening centre. UNB community members who are asymptomatic can also arrange to be tested.
"This closure will provide New Brunswick Public Health and UNB the opportunity to properly assess the current COVID-19 situation on our campus. This step is being taken in light of the positive cases on campus that may be a variant of concern in our community," says the statement from Paul J. Mazerolle, UNB President and Vice-Chancellor. "We understand that this is a difficult and confusing time for all. It is important for us to come together as a community and demonstrate patience and understanding. We need to work together to navigate the next few days."
Violet Eliza Sioux is a UNB student who lives in Magee House. She told CTV Atlantic she’s frustrated with the lack of transparent communication from the university.
“They told us we were not allowed to leave until the end of our isolation period, but they haven’t given us a date for that so, we haven’t been told when we’re allowed to leave,” said Sioux.
With exams and appointments looming, Sioux said they don’t know if they’ll be able to leave after testing negative once, twice – or undergo two full weeks of isolation.
She said the university is providing food to the affected residences but students have been told to not use laundry services or take out the garbage from their units.
In a statement to CTV Atlantic, UNB administration said the situation is “fluid.”
“Due to strict confidentiality and privacy concerns, UNB is provided with only the necessary information required to support contact tracing,” said Heather Campbell, associate director of communications. “UNB is working with and taking all direction from New Brunswick Public Health.”
Public health says they are working with university officials to provide support and further assess the situation at the university. Health officials are also working with representatives from St. Thomas University and the NBCC Fredericton campus "due to their close proximity to the University of New Brunswick."
As of Monday, New Brunswick is reporting 122 active cases of COVID-19.