UVic says 124 COVID cases, including four reports of Omicron, now linked to off-campus parties


Exam time is stressful enough, but University of Victoria students are now scrambling after all exams were hastily moved online due to a large cluster of COVID cases.

“The notice that it’s moving online was really immediate,” says UVic student Charlie Chen. “With the profs, how do you move an exam online in 12 hours? It just doesn’t happen.”

“I did have an exam today actually, in class, and I was panicked last night wondering if it was in person and what was happening,” says student Alexander Lima.

“Everyone was so prepared to write these exams and then suddenly, just one thing happens and now everything is online,” adds first year student Hannah Kroeplen.

As of Monday, 124 UVic students have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least four of those cases are the Omicron variant after two off-campus parties held by business students and varsity athletes.

“When you have a party of 40+ people, I feel like that’s quite irresponsible and that ruins everything for people here,” Lima  says.

In a notice posted to its website, UVic says it made the decision to move exams online “to reduce the frequency and number of students sitting together for extended periods of time in examination gyms and rooms.”

It’s a move many students agree with.

“Having 800 people in an exam room, well, that’s probably not the best thing,” first year student Makenna Baechler says.

The UVic cluster come as concern grows over the omicron variant. It’s seeing cases double every two to three days in the UK and Ontario and it’s now spreading elsewhere in Canada.

“We are seeing community transmission, but this can rapidly escalate in the days to come,” cautions Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

Health officials say it’s only a matter of time before omicron, which is believed to be much more transmissible but possibly less potent, becomes the dominant strain.

Vancouver Island’s top doctor, meanwhile, is warning the spike in cases at UVic should be a wake up call for the holidays.

“What the students did, this is what much of our population will be doing heading into the holiday season,” says Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical health officer. “Keep your contacts small. The larger the gathering, the larger the risk.”

Read More: UVic sees spike in COVID-19 cases linked to off-campus social gatherings

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