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UVic COVID-19 cluster climbs to 124, including 4 listed as the Omicron variant

University moved all fall semester exams online Sunday amid rising case numbers
The Omicron variant has been identified in a COVID-19 cluster associated with University of Victoria students. (Photo courtesy of UVic)

A cluster of COVID-19 cases associated with the University of Victoria community rose to 124 as of Monday, a day after the school moved all exams online.

Lab sequencing found at least four cases of Omicron among the cluster and it’s expected that additional cases of the variant of concern will be identified, according to a joint statement from Island Health and the university.

The health authority and UVic are not aware of any hospitalizations associated with the 124 cases, according to the statement.

“It is important to note that these cases are occurring within a highly vaccinated population, and as such, we are seeing mild illness,” it said.

Initial epidemiological data show transmission among the cluster occurred in household or social settings where few, if any COVID-19 controls were in place. The statement added there’s no evidence of transmission in on-campus classrooms or workplaces, which was credited to the university’s control measures.

To manage the cluster, rapid tests will be made available through the university in the coming days for any individuals deemed to be close contacts of the positive cases.

Island Health’s medical officer of health is confident the mitigation measures are sufficient and will support the university in planning for a return to normal operations in January.

On Dec. 9, the university confirmed a rise in cases among students, mainly business and varsity student-athletes, who attended two off-campus events. Alternate exam arrangements were made for those groups at the time. On Sunday, it was announced that as of Monday, all in-person exams for the fall semester would be moved online.

The statement called the cluster a reminder to take extra care this holiday season.

“Indoor social settings where there are few or no COVID-19 controls in place can lead to transmission of COVID-19 even among vaccinated people.”

READ: UVic moves remaining exams online amid rising COVID-19 cases

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