Premier Doug Ford hailed contact tracing efforts in Kingston, Ontario, after 18 active cases of the new coronavirus reported for more than a week were linked to an outbreak at a local nail salon.
From June 12 to 24, Kingston’s Binh’s Nail Salon served more than 500 people. Now, six salon workers, including the owner, have tested positive for the virus, along with 12 others.
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Ford said the Public Health capacity of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addinton (KFL & A) to identify the source of the epidemic and alert the public was a good sign.
“What it shows is that the system works because how quickly we contacted and found the 500 people,” Ford said during his daily press conference on Friday.
Despite the potentially high number of people threatened by the epidemic, Minister of Health Christine Elliott echoed the Prime Minister, saying that the epidemic does not prevent efforts to reopen Stage 2.
“That doesn’t mean we have to go back to everything we moved in step 2, but we continue to follow it to make sure that the proper precautions are taken,” said Elliott.
KFL & A Public Health announced the epidemic at Binh’s Nail Salon on Thursday, naming it as the source of at least 10 cases of the new coronavirus.
At 9 a.m. on Friday, the public health department had identified eight new cases linked to the show. New cases include two employees at the nail salon and one partner of an employee, according to medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore, as well as a second employee of The Rustic Spud in downtown Kingston.
Public health said on Thursday that there were only 10 employees at the show. With four employees infected on Thursday and two on Friday, this would indicate that 60% of the staff have the virus.
A health worker, a parent and a small child were also among those who caught the virus last week in Kingston.
Public health said that some employees came to work when they were symptomatic, that social distancing was a problem when the salon was open, and that the company did not keep accurate customer records.
Moore added that some of these clients and their contacts were workers in health and correctional facilities. If infected, these workers would have posed great risks for vulnerable communities in local institutions.
The medical officer of health added that the virus had been spreading from the living room for about a week.
Moore called Thursday, asking any customer at the nail salon to get tested immediately, and isolate themselves for 14 days, regardless of the outcome. The show welcomed around 500 customers from June 12 to 24, and public health has identified around 180 close contacts of these customers who will now need to be monitored.
The queues outside the regional assessment center have been stretching out on blocks since Thursday.
Another Kingston company was hit by the sudden COVID-19 outbreak in the city.
The Amherstview Golf Club said that one of its patio workers tested positive for the virus on Thursday. Along with the nail salon, The Rustic Spud was forced to close after one of its employees was infected while working on the patio.
A Facebook post from the golf club indicates that one of its employees came into contact with a person who had subsequently tested positive for the virus while on the terrace. This employee was also tested positive.
“Although we are always open for business, we will close the patio (bar) until our reception staff and others who wish to be tested,” the post said.
The total for the region reached 81 as of Friday, after more than a week of seeing absolutely no cases at all. In fact, the Kingston area has not seen 10 cases in a week since the beginning of April.
Despite his shortcomings in the nail salon, Moore said public health would not result in a fine for the company. But, in the future, he said companies that fail to comply with the Stage 2 guidelines will be publicly named and fined, starting at $ 700.
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