Hundreds of people have been told to self-isolate in Kingston, Ont., after 18 cases have been linked to a nail salon.
On Friday, medical officer of health Kieran Moore said that eight more cases were identified in the past 24 hours. An outbreak was declared a day earlier by Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health at Binh’s Nails and Spa.
The nail salon in the eastern Ontario city is now closed until further notice. It originally reopened June 12 as part of Stage 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan. Around 500 clients visited the salon from June 12 to June 24, and they’ve all been asked to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days since their visit. Public health officials have also identified around 180 close contacts of those clients that will also be monitored.
“What it shows is the system is working…because of how quickly we contacted and traced the 500 people,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
The 18 cases are the first the region has identified since May (when two cases were discovered), for a total of 81 throughout the pandemic. Kingston previously went through a stretch of no active cases, but since last weekend health officials have identified 18 new patients linked to the nail salon.
“This is not unexpected as the economy opens, this can occur. I’m just happy this was caught early,” Moore said.
Among the 18 cases are six staff members at Binh’s Nails and Spa and one of their partners.
Three cases have also been identified in connection to the The Rustic Spud restaurant in downtown Kingston. Other cases involve people working in the health-care setting and in correctional facilities, said Moore, but the virus has yet to spread in those settings. COVID-19 has instead spread between close contacts, such as spouses.
“This has most likely been going for about a week in our community,” Moore said, noting that the rate of spread has been three to five days.
“The risk to the community was very high knowing that this could have spread to vulnerable populations. I’m glad at present that everyone is now aware of the risk in our community.”
Moore reminded people that when accessing personal services, everyone should be masked. The person providing the service should wash their hands for 20 seconds before coming into contact with a client. Public health officials are now considering making masks mandatory in public.
At the moment, none of the 18 positive cases are in hospital.