COVID-19: Barrhaven martial arts outbreak blamed on four-day contact tracing delay

The Barrhaven Martial Arts Center has released an open letter to the public regarding a significant COVID-19 outbreak linked to the facility.

At least 45 cases of COVID-19 are linked to the outbreak. The Barrhaven Martial Arts Center said in their open letter that the first high-risk exposure happened on November 22, but they weren’t notified until the 26th.

“On Monday November 22, a child participated in our after school program. The next day, Tuesday November 23, the child developed cold symptoms and stayed home to self-isolate and get tested,” it reads. in the open letter. “Come Friday night, November 26th, four full days after the first exposure, we received a call from Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to advise of a high risk contact in the after school program.”

The company says it immediately notified families of the exposure, and nearly all of them were affected.

“The following Monday afternoon, November 29, we received more information from OPH indicating that several children in the after school program had developed symptoms and tested positive over the weekend, as the virus likely spread on Monday and further Tuesday through Friday,” the open letter read. .

They were also made aware of an exhibit related to an evening Muay Thai class for children on November 26th. Once again, families have been contacted. The company opted on November 30 to temporarily shut down its children’s program and offer lessons on Zoom.

The martial arts center says the outbreak at its Strandherd Drive location is unrelated to prior high-risk exposure at Gracie Barra Ottawa on City Center Avenue.

“None of our staff or students were present for the exhibit at Gracie Barra Ottawa, November 9 at 5:30 p.m.,” the company said in its open letter.

Instead, staff say the four-day delay between exposure on November 22 and confirmation from the DPO on November 26 is responsible for the wide spread of the virus.

“It is extremely unfortunate that a case has developed and spread rapidly over the course of a week, under the radar, in our children’s program,” the open letter reads. “With a four-day delay in communication from OPH, we acted as quickly as possible to carry out the actions recommended by Ottawa Public Health. We cooperated in every way with Ottawa Public Health and often contacted families to advise them risk before SPO is able to.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon, Ottawa Public Health said it typically contacts people who receive a lab-confirmed positive result within 48 hours of testing; however, identifying and notifying high-risk contacts “takes time”.

“OPH cannot act on case and contact management until a lab-confirmed positive result is in our hands. It depends on individuals getting tested in a timely manner,” OPH said. .

“Identifying and notifying high-risk contacts takes time. After an individual develops symptoms, it takes time to get tested and receive test results. It then takes time for OPH to determine who has been exposed to the individual who tested positive, and to notify those contacts.”

The Barrhaven Martial Arts Center reopened on Monday, following DPO approval. The facility was also physically inspected on Monday.

The company said it released the open letter to address what it called unfounded gossip and rumors in the community about the outbreak.

“The simple fact is that one case morphed into several, due to a variety of factors,” the open letter reads. “Despite screening, attendance tracking, cohorts and sanitation practices, the single most important factor OPH attributes to this outbreak is a delay in response and action. It took four days from the first high-risk exposure to the first contact from Ottawa Public Health regarding the high-risk exposure.”

On Tuesday, Ottawa Public Health did not confirm whether the outbreak at the Barrhaven Martial Arts Center was linked to an outbreak of COVID-19 at Half Moon Bay Public School. At least 17 cases in students are linked to the outbreak at school, and the school is closed. Principal Chris Toivonen said on Tuesday the school would remain closed until Friday, when OPH will assess whether it is safe to reopen.

Ottawa Public Health says there is “continued transmission of COVID-19 in Barrhaven” in multiple settings, including Half Moon Bay Public School.

“The increase in cases currently seen in this region is primarily in people who have only recently become eligible for vaccination,” OPH said.

“Given the non-immune or partially immune status of this population, all other COVID-19 control measures remain of utmost importance. OPH advises that screening, masking, hand hygiene and contact reduction with people outside your household remain important tools to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.”

With files from Josh Pringle of CTV News Ottawa

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