Hundreds of people across the Kingston, Ont. region are now being tested after potentially being exposed to the novel coronavirus, and health officials say they’re expecting more positive tests by the end of the weekend after an outbreak at a local nail salon.
As of Friday afternoon, 16 people had tested positive for COVID-19 after working at, visiting or coming into contact with someone who was at Binh’s Nails and Spa, in the city’s west end.
Emily Brooks said she got a manicure on June 14, just two days after the salon reopened, and was “pretty upset” to hear about the outbreak.
She was one of dozens of people lined up for hours Friday outside the city’s testing centre at the Kingston Memorial Centre.
Brooks said she fears a positive test result will mean having to take time off from her job at a local restaurant, even though she’s been asymptomatic since her appointment.
She also worried she might have unwittingly transmitted COVID-19 to someone else.
“I’m really nervous about [having the virus] because, like, I haven’t been very cautious,” Brooks said.
Sandra Brown also waited in line for hours Friday to get tested.
She’s been in close contact with two people who were exposed to COVID-19 — one who works at a penitentiary — and she’s worried what a jump in cases could mean for some of the city’s most vulnerable.
“There’s too many seniors in the area that can get sick easily. I’m one of them,” she said.
“I think it’s sad, but they’re saying that a second wave’s going to hit. So if it’s going to hit, let’s hope it’s now instead of later … so that kids can get back to school and people can get back to work.”
Could have been worse, health official says
Kingston had a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases — all of the previous 63 cases were resolved — until this latest outbreak.
The city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, called the outbreak situation a “near miss,” one that could have been much worse if health officials had not caught it sooner.
“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we caught this early,” he said.
Some of the related cases include: two people who worked “behind the scenes” in a local restaurant; two corrections officers, one of whom had been at work while they were infectious; and a health-care worker at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre.
Other health-care workers who work in long-term care facilities, retirement homes and hospitals had also visited the nail salon.
Moore said he’s expecting more cases.
“I’m not going to be surprised if there’s more cases … because we’ve tested hundreds of individuals.”
After the outbreak, Moore signed a health order making masks mandatory for both employees and customers at most indoor locations, starting Saturday.
“It is our concern that people have gone back to their old way of doing business, and this is a new age where we have to increase our precautions,” he said.
Those locations include everything from nail salons and restaurants to grocery stores and taxis.
Moore said officials would allow a grace period for the first week, but any business caught disobeying the health order could face a $5,000 fine for each day they break the law.