Positive COVID-19 diagnosis of UVic student living off campus

March 19, 2020 - University of Victoria

Message from President Cassels

I want to inform you that the University of Victoria has its first confirmed case of a community member testing positive for COVID-19. This individual is an upper-level student who lives off campus and is recovering at home with good care, and is well supported by their family. I know you join me in wishing them a speedy return to good health.

With a campus population of nearly 30,000 people and as the number of cases in BC continues to grow, it was not unexpected that at some point a member of our community would contract the virus.

I want to thank all members of our community for their continued support of the university’s actions to respond to these unprecedented and quickly evolving circumstances. Together, we are doing everything we can to  prevent or slow the transmission of this virus.

Our collective goal continues to be to protect the health and safety of all of us: students, faculty members, librarians and staff, wherever you study, work or live on campus.

These challenging times have seen extraordinary efforts by everyone on campus to ensure that students can complete their terms, that services continue to be delivered, and that our facilities and work environments are safe and well-maintained. We will continue to follow the advice of provincial health officials in these and other crucial areas.

While I understand that this new development may cause heightened concern for some people, our work together and our support for each other will see us through.

Thank you for everything you are doing to assist.

Update: March 19, 6:00 p.m.

A University of Victoria student who lives off campus has tested positive for COVID-19. The university responded immediately after being notified by the student in the late afternoon of March 18.

UVic has been in contact with and offered our support to the student, who says they are in good spirits and expects to complete their courses.

Senior university staff are working closely with and following the lead of local medical officials, who are tracing and notifying those who may have had close contact with the individual. 

Island Health also issued a bulletin for those who may have been exposed in public spaces. An Island Health Medical Health Officer has completed a risk assessment and concluded that the risk of transmission was low and restricted to those who may have had contact with the individual at the university in three specific third-year classes on March 12. They are being advised to monitor themselves closely for symptoms.

Please see the Island Health Bulletin for further information. Please view a video on Island Health’s policy regarding releasing patient information.

Due to privacy legislation, UVic is unable to release personal information about its students or employees. This is the first member of the university community with a known positive COVID-19 diagnosis.  

Our goal remains to do our utmost to protect the health and safety of our campus community members and the wider community. UVic has been actively planning for and responding to the COVID-19 situation since the first case in BC was confirmed on Jan. 29, and continues to act on the advice of the provincial health officer.

The provincial health officer, who is taking a measured and evidence-based approach to institutional responses to COVID-19, has to date encouraged universities to take steps to remain open while promoting strategies to prevent the spread of the virus.

Measures UVic has taken so far to prevent and slow the transmission of the virus include:

  • Transitioning from in-person student services to alternative forms of communication and support, effective March 19.
  • Transitioning from face-to-face to alternative modes of instruction and evaluation, effective March 16.
  • Encouraging students in residence to return home if they can.
  • Enabling employees, in consultation with their supervisors, to work remotely.
  • Cancelling all events and gatherings of 50 or more people.
  • Closing the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA), Legacy Art Galleries and university libraries.
  • Enhancing the cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch objects and surfaces.
  • Advising students, faculty and staff who feel ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to stay home, minimize contact with others and phone HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) or their family doctor. People can check symptoms online at covid19.thrive.health

Questions regarding notification process

Who notifies the university about cases on campus?

Island Health will notify the university whenever necessary to protect the health of the university and broader community.

How will I know if I’ve been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

Island Health will work closely with the UVic health clinic to conduct contact tracing. Those people who have been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 may be notified directly or as part of a group communication. Depending on the situation, Island Health may issue a bulletin, notify a group of people or specific individuals.

What do I need to do if I'm contacted and I know I’ve been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19?

Please follow the advice of Island Health. Monitor yourself closely for symptoms. If you develop respiratory symptoms, even mild ones, self-isolate immediately for 14 days. Assume that any signs of respiratory illness may be COVID-19 at this time and take immediate action to protect others by self-isolating and practicing social distancing.

What classes did the student attend?

The student attended the following on March 12:

  • Psyc 300B -> Cornett B108
  • Psyc 351B -> Hickman 105
  • Biol 367 -> David Turpin A102

Island Health says risk of community transmission is low for people who attended these classes.