COVID-19 infections on the rise after grad ceremonies at university in Nova Scotia

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Published December 9, 2021 at 12:31 pm

HALIFAX — There are now 59 COVID-19 infections linked to recent graduation ceremonies at St. Francis Xavier University in northern Nova Scotia.

Health officials reported an additional 38 cases today as part of the university cluster, most of them fully vaccinated young people experiencing mild symptoms.

Though the number of related infections is expected to rise in the days ahead, the province says there has been no evidence of spread in classrooms or residences, and no secondary transmission among the 4,000 people living in Antigonish.

The university’s administration has reported that about 95 per cent of the student body is vaccinated.

The university’s annual X-Ring ceremony for senior students, which was held on Friday, attracted more than 2,000 people to the campus — and the fall convocation was held the next day.

Provincial officials say an investigation has found the majority of infections were spread during smaller, private gatherings related to activities held on and off the campus between Dec. 2 and Dec. 5.

The 38 new cases represent the bulk of the overall total of 52 new cases reported from across the province today.

“The university, students and community have been very co-operative and are complying with public health investigation advice, including testing,” the provincial government said in a statement Thursday.

To speed up the search for cases, Nova Scotia Health’s testing centre has increased its operating hours and the province’s Public Health Mobile Unit will be in Antigonish over the next several days.

“Our priority right now is supporting those who are positive and containing any further spread on campus and in the community,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said in a statement Thursday.

“The vaccine is doing its job by limiting spread and keeping symptoms mild, so this outbreak is very different from what we’ve seen in … previous outbreaks. Our concern level is lower because of widespread vaccinations and the symptoms we are seeing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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