Island Health has confirmed 124 cases of COVID-19 are connected to the University of Victoria with four of those cases being the Omicron variant.
Island Health and the University of Victoria released a joint statement Monday evening on the cluster of cases associated with people who attended two off-campus parties.
According to the health authority, lab sequencing confirmed that at least four of those cases are the Omicron variant of concern and additional cases are expected.
“It is important to note that these cases are occurring within a highly vaccinated population, and as such, we are seeing mild illness and are not aware of any hospitalizations associated with this cluster at this time,” said Island Health.
Island Health also stated that data shows the transmission is occurring in indoor household or social settings where few, if any COVID-19 controls are in place.
“There is no evidence of transmission in on-campus classrooms or workplaces due to the many control measures that exist on campus,” the health authority said.
In a media release last week, UVic said medical health officers confirmed there was an increase in COVID-19 cases among students that attended two off-campus social gatherings.
In light of the spike in cases, the university halted in-person exams for the remainder of the December 2021 exam season.
“UVic has made this decision in consultation with Island Health,” UVic said in a release.
“Throughout the fall academic term, UVic has worked closely with government and public health experts to keep the university community healthy and safe, while delivering on our academic mission of teaching, learning, research and community engagement.”
According to the Martlet, UVic’s independent newspaper, two off-campus social events last weekend resulted in many students testing positive for COVID-19.
The decision to cancel in-person exams immediately was made to reduce the frequency and number of students sitting together for extended periods of time in examination gyms and rooms.
UVic acknowledged that, for many, this may be late notice with exams to be held on Monday, but they are asking instructors to offer their assessments online or in another format for the time being.
Along with changes to this year’s examination period, the release issued today also outlines COVID-19 protocols for other areas of campus life.
Island Health is working with the university to distribute rapid testing kits as a tool to support management of this cluster. The rapid testing kits will be available to access through the university for individuals who had close contacts to confirmed cases.
The kits are expected to be available in the coming days. Until the rapid testing kits are available, or for individuals who require testing but have not been previously identified as a close contact, appointments for testing can be booked through Island Health’s call centre at 1-844-901-8442.
Since Friday, over 300 news cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Island Health region.
More to come.