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What Kingston, Ont. did right in handling a COVID-19 outbreak at two salons
TORONTO -- Despite a COVID-19 outbreak in two nail salons that resulted in 30 confirmed cases, Kingston, Ont. is being praised by its own regional medical officer for the community's response.
“It’s a community that has to respond to these types of threats and our community has risen to this occasion,” the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. “They participated aggressively in testing. We’ve had over 3,000 people in Kingston get tested this week.”
Last week, the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Health Unit declared a novel coronavirus outbreak at Binh’s Nails and Spa salon in which 16 people, including six employees, tested positive for the disease.
Since then, Moore said 30 new cases have been linked to Binh's and another nearby salon, Kingdom Nails & Spa, where an employee was in close contact with a worker from the first salon.
While employees, clients and close contacts of both salons have tested positive for COVID-19, Moore said he was pleased to report that no one has had to be hospitalized or admitted to the ICU as a result of the outbreak.
The city is also being applauded for its handling of the outbreak, which included a prompt order for mandatory face mask use in all indoor public spaces as well as increased testing, self-isolation orders and contact tracing.
In addition to increased testing, Moore said the public health unit instructed 500 customers who visited the nail salon between June 12 and 24 to self-isolate at home and monitor for symptoms of the disease. If they exhibited symptoms, they were asked to get tested immediately.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “We’re actively engaged, investigating other potential sources of infection in the community. And we'll have to maintain this high level of vigilance, high level of testing. Everyone has a role to play to reduce the spread of this virus.”
Moore said health officials have shared their experience with other health units so similar outbreaks can be prevented.
He said the investigation revealed that some clients weren’t wearing masks in the salon, hand hygiene wasn’t up to standards and better protocols for separating people inside these small business is needed.
“So lots of lessons learned for us,” he said. “No one’s blaming, we want to learn from this, and we want to do better.”
Following the outbreak, Moore said it's recommended that employees in these businesses get tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, even if they don’t exhibit any symptoms. He also said officials are ensuring these businesses adhere to the province’s guidance by conducting audits and partnering with them so they feel supported.
“We want our economy to succeed. We don’t want our businesses to fail, but we want to do so safely,” he said.
Vigilance will be important to maintain in the months ahead, Moore said, particularly when flu season returns in the fall.
“This virus wants to come back into any one of our communities at any time and it only takes one exposure -- and it could be a minimal exposure, just like getting your nails done -- that the virus can spread,” he said. “As a community, we just have to remain vigilant.”