UBC residence gets COVID-19 exposure alert by public health

Dec 11 2021, 5:22 pm

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has issued an COVID-19 exposure alert to residents of Totem Park at UBC, a residence housing hundreds of students.

The student-run UBC Covid Tracker on Twitter shared what seems like a VCH exposure alert to all residents at Totem Park. UBC Covid Tracker noted that it was the first time they’ve seen a public health exposure notice like this sent to a UBC residence.

According to the notice, Public health is currently working with the school to identify any close contacts of those who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Anyone who is identified as a close contact will be notified directly and asked to self-isolate or self-monitor for 14 days from the date of last possible exposure, depending on vaccination status.

The statement from VCH suggests that if you’re not contacted by the health authority, then your risk of exposure is considered to be low, and isolating is not recommended. You can also continue with normal daily activities.

UBC response

Daily Hive spoke with a UBC representative in regards to the Totem Park exposure alert.  All students at the residence received the exposure notices out of an “abundance of caution.”

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we’ve been very clear with our community that it’s the rightful responsibility of the health authorities to inform the community of cases,” said a UBC spokesperson.

“Health information is private, we do not reveal it.”

When it comes to pandemic response at the university, UBC works in consultation with, and sometimes under the direction of VCH. In regards to the suggestion from UBC Covid Tracker that the exposure could lead to a serious situation, UBC says that the risk is very low.

“In this instance the reported cases at Totem Park Residence Facility are so low that I can’t give you a number because of privacy issues.”

They also add that they’ve put the community and their safety first since the beginning of the pandemic.

“UBC has worked at times literally around the clock to ensure as best as possible the health and safety of our community, and will continue to do so.”

UBC also has no plans to shift examinations to online-only, as the risk of transmission remains very low. They ask that the community look to informed sources for the latest on COVID-19.

Rapid testing at UBC

Earlier this month, the rapid testing program at UBC was a hot topic of conversation.

A letter from BC’s Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson, sent to UBC on December 6, suggested that regular screening could be discontinued due to the fact that so many people on campus were vaccinated.

There was a bit of a shift on December 9, when UBC suggested they would maintain the rapid testing program.

Daily Hive has reached out to VCH for more information.

Editor’s note: Several quotes from UBC Covid Tracker referring to the severity of the exposure notice have been removed from this story, and the headline has been amended.

Amir AliAmir Ali
Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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