Coronavirus Canada updates: Sixteen cases linked to Kingston, Ont., nail salon, officials make indoor mask use mandatory

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Coronavirus Canada updates: COVID-19 case identified at Whispering Ridge Community School
Coronavirus Canada updates: COVID-19 case identified at Whispering Ridge Community School

Hundreds of people have been told to self-isolate in Kingston, Ont., with 16 cases linked to a nail salon.

The outbreak in connection to Binh’s Nails and Spa has also led to health officials deciding to make masks now mandatory in all indoor public places in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health region. Starting Saturday, establishments that do not make mask use mandatory could face a $5,000 fine.

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.

The 16 cases are the first the region has identified since May (when two cases were discovered), for a total of 79 throughout the pandemic. The health unit initially reported 81 cases Friday, but a revision scaled back the case count.

Kingston previously went through a stretch of no active cases, but since last weekend health officials have identified 16 new patients linked to the nail salon, including six in its latest 24-hour stretch.

“This is not unexpected as the economy opens, this can occur. I’m just happy this was caught early,” said the region’s medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province’s “system is working…because of how quickly we contacted and traced the 500 people.”

Moore said he was “saddened” to learn the salon wasn’t cleaning properly between sessions and also not following two-metre physical distancing rules. Workers wore masks, but that wasn’t always the case with customers.

Among the 16 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.”

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