Western supporting students following COVID-19 outbreak in Essex Hall

March 02, 2021 7:30 PM

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in Essex Hall residence, where there are currently seven confirmed positive cases.

Western is taking its direction from MLHU and is collaborating with officials on testing and contact tracing.

“The health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority as we follow the recommendations of the local health unit,” said Chris Alleyne, Western’s associate vice-president of housing and ancillary services. The university has made testing readily available, and encouraged students to get tested as they return to residence.  

All 338 students living in Essex Hall have been notified. Anyone considered a close contact will be notified directly by the MLHU.   

Students who have tested positive, as well as some close contacts, have been moved to a quarantine location outside of residence. Out of an abundance of caution, the university is also providing on-site testing to other students isolating in place on the affected floors in Essex.

“We are providing students who are isolating with meal delivery, as well as academic, health and well-being support,” said Alleyne. “We know this news may cause concern, and we want to assure our students we’re here to support them in every possible way.”

“We need to remain cautious, especially with the unknown impact of variants. We must continue to take care of ourselves, each other and our community.”

Students have returned to Western’s residences on a staggered schedule throughout February, following the end of the region’s stay-at-home order. The university made testing readily available, and encouraged students to get tested on campus as they returned.

Western has put several health and safety measures in place in residences, including reducing capacity to about 70 per cent. Students are not allowed to bring guests to residence or to visit other residences themselves. A recently launched website outlining residence-specific guidelines is updated regularly based on provincial and MLHU directives.

“In light of the new, more contagious variants in our community, it’s critical we not let our guard down,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, MLHU medical officer of health.Now is the time to renew our commitment to limit the spread of COVID-19, wear a mask and limit close contacts.”

Western students and employees who have COVID-19 symptoms or who have been notified by public health or the COVID Alert app they have been exposed to a confirmed case should self-isolate until they can be tested.

More than 11,000 COVID tests have been completed at Western’s COVID testing centre to date. Located in the Western Student Recreation Centre, the testing centre is open to students and employees Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Contacts for students and families:

Contacts for employees:

  • Health-related inquiries: Please contact your family doctor, Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
  • Other inquiries: Human Resources at hrhelp@uwo.ca 

There are additional COVID-19 resources for the campus community on Western’s COVID-19 website and on the MLHU’s website.