StFX records first positive COVID case as students return to campus

Students were welcomed back to StFX University and Antigonish last August.

ANTIGONISH: StFX University has recorded its first case of COVID-19.

The case was confirmed after a successful fall semester in which no positive cases arose and as students arrive back to StFX to prepare for the winter semester.

Students from outside the Atlantic region arrive in Antigonish this week to begin their two-week isolation.

In a letter addressed to the StFX community, President Andy Hakin advised the Nova Scotia Health Authority contacted them on Jan. 5 to inform them of the positive COVID-19 test result on their campus.

“According to our information, the student arrived to campus on Jan. 3 and has been isolating in residence and following the prescribed safety protocols,” Hakin said. “During isolation, the student opted to go for testing which produced a positive result.”

On Jan. 6, the province confirmed that the Eastern Zone case is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. They also confirmed the person is a student at StFX who lives on campus.

Currently, the student is continuing to safely isolate on campus, with the appropriate academic and operational supports in place, per the university’s pandemic plans.

The university explained in a post on social media the student flew into Halifax International Airport and had a pre-arranged driver to provide transportation services to Antigonish.

“On behalf of the university community, I wish to acknowledge and thank this individual for closely monitoring their health and for adhering to the health and safety protocols related to testing,” Hakin said. “By looking after ourselves, we look after our community.”

Laurie Boucher, the town’s mayor indicated she understands and empathizes with residents who may be feeling anxious after hearing this news.

“For the last number of months our community has done a very good job at following the public health guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Boucher told The Reporter. “And now is no different.”

Despite having a few incidents regarding gatherings last semester, the mayor suggested they were dealt with in the proper manner by the RCMP and StFX administration.

“As we move into the winter semester, the town remains committed to working with the county, StFX and our local health care providers to educate and keep residents informed,” Boucher said. “But we need everyone’s support in order to protect the health and safety of our community.”

Any required contact tracing is being managed by public health, and those considered to be a close contact are being approached directly by public health officials. The university will reinforce and promote public health notices to ensure their community is well informed.

According to provincial regulations which came into effect on Jan. 4, post-secondary students from outside Atlantic Canada who return after the holidays and don’t have symptoms should get one COVID-19 test on day six, seven or eight of their self-isolation.

The students must complete the full 14 day self-isolation, even if they have recorded a negative test result.

“I want to take this opportunity to remind the community of the importance of self-monitoring for symptoms,” Hakin added. “As well as ensuring diligence with the basics of remaining safe – wear your mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.”