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Faculty Association says COVID-19 case linked to UPEI not properly communicated

·2 min read
'The communications around this were not good, and that's a major concern for many of our members,' says Michael Arfken.  (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)
'The communications around this were not good, and that's a major concern for many of our members,' says Michael Arfken. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)

The UPEI Faculty Association says staff members are concerned about the lack of information from the university about a recent COVID-19 case connected to the school.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed Tuesday that a COVID-19 case has been linked to the university.

She said that the school's administration was notified about the case over the weekend, but the faculty association said most of its members didn't find out until it was announced in the health briefing on Tuesday.

Michael Arfken, president of the association, says more information was given in other cases involving public spaces, and that he's disappointed how the news of this case was handled.

Laura Meader/CBC News
Laura Meader/CBC News

"The communications around this were not good, and that's a major concern for many of our members," he said.

"In fact, for most of our members this was the first they heard about the case ... and for a number of our members who had heard something about it essentially through the rumour mill, it didn't really alleviate those anxieties."

Risk level is low, Morrison says

The association said while it understands peoples' privacy is important in cases like this, people need to know information that is relevant for their own personal health and safety.

Government of P.E.I.
Government of P.E.I.

The Chief Public Health Office didn't list UPEI as a potential public exposure site in relation to the case linked to the university.

Dr. Morrison said they have a criteria of sorts for determining if something should merit a public exposure notice.

"Every case we deal with there's a very standard kind of contact tracing protocol that's used ... for instance if it was a student, they weren't in the cafeteria, or with a whole bunch of classes, or places where individual close contacts could not be clearly identified and easily identified," she said.

Dr. Morrison said in this case the risk level is low, and the number of possible contacts is small. Although, the case isn't linked to travel so far, she said, and the CPHO is still investigating.

In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for UPEI said the health and safety of the campus community "remains UPEI's top priority.

"We have not been advised to implement any additional health and safety measures at this time. We will continue to follow the guidance of the P.E.I. CPHO."

The communications around this were not good, and that's a major concern for many of our members. — Michael Arfken

But despite the low risk, Arfken said the faculty association still worries about the case — especially because it has not yet been linked to travel.

"That's a concern on a university campus, because a university campus is a pretty interesting place, people are moving quite a bit, people are moving between classrooms," he said.

But Arfken said he hopes more information will be shared from UPEI's administration in the future.

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