44 cases reported, including one ER visit
On the Morning of Friday, Febr. 26, the University of Regina became aware of a spike in gastrointestinal illnesses on campus.
“We have 44 cases that are reporting similar symptoms. We’re working very closely with public health to determine the root cause,” says Darren Cherwaty, director of health, safety and wellness at the U of R.
“Public health is collecting clinical samples from these individuals who have had the illness, and we’re waiting for the lab diagnostics, in essence, to confirm what it might be,” Cherwaty said.
At least one person went to the emergency room, but Cherwaty said they don’t know if that person was admitted to the hospital or not.
In an email sent to students, the university stated that “most people recover without any type of special treatment,” but added that these types of illnesses “spread easily.”
At this point, the university said that the Fitness Centre would be closed until the end of the weekend. As well, the email stressed that “the University’s housekeeping, custodial and food services staff will be undertaking extra cleaning precautions to reduce the risk of the gastrointestinal illnesses spreading further.”
The University contacted the Public Health division of the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region to “provide advice on the additional precautions on campus.”
For those students affected, it recommended that they stay home or in residence for 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. For those working in the food services on campus, the email recommends staying home for 72 hours after symptoms have cleared.
On Sunday, the University sent an update email with the subject line “Your Assistance Needed.” The email extended the closure of the Fitness Centre to March 2. Additionally, it included a list of items to “mitigate the risk of spreading the illness.” Among the items in the list were basic hand washing, and the monitoring of health of family members.
Buffet food services are also being reduced on campus in order to stem the contagion.
“We’re trying to be proactive as we can without knowing where the point of cause is,” says Cherwaty.
The University of Regina has had trouble with health and safety recently, with many of the Chartwells establishments on campus failing health inspections, and several failing repeatedly. Chief concerns were the hand-washing practices. The Tim Horton’s in the Riddell Centre was reported to have evidence of mice for a period of four and a half months, during which four unsatisfactory reports were received.
Several students affected expressed concerns, as they had missed sensitive deadlines for assignments and midterms due to the illness.
“I don’t know if I blame the university admin, but it seems like they just haven’t been doing a good job of keeping this university clean,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous.
The Carillon will be bringing you updates on this story as it develops.