Health unit declares COVID-19 outbreak at east London Starbucks

The Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) declared an outbreak after three employees at an east London Starbucks tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week.

The health unit says a staff member at the coffee shop on Highbury Avenue, just north of Cheapside Street, tested positive for the virus last week, prompting the closure of the store on Oct. 11. Two additional staff members tested positive on Friday.

The MLHU has determined the spread of the virus occurred at the store, and there may have been low-risk exposure to customers. Anyone who visited the Starbucks on Oct. 3, 4, 6, 7 or 8 is being advised to self-monitor for symptoms.

“We know many people visit Starbucks frequently and that this news may cause concern, but I want to be clear that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a situation like this is very low. Any interactions would have been brief and there was a physical barrier that would have reduced the possibility for COVID-19 transmission,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, London’s medical officer of health in a statement.

A sign posted on the door shows the store is temporarily closed. (Amanda Margison/CBC)

“Our priority now is to follow up with these three people directly, determine who their close contacts are and provide the support they need to help navigate this situation.”

The health unit is also reminding the public that anyone who is not showing symptoms doesn’t need to get tested.

9 new cases reported Saturday

The MLHU reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, including two cases at a long-term care facility. One resident and one staff member tested positive for the virus on Friday, prompting an outbreak at Westmount Gardens, a long-term care home in southwest London.

There are now 10 long-term care homes dealing with at least one case of COVID-19.

The health unit posted 24 recoveries Saturday, bringing the number of known active cases down to 72 for the region from a weekly high of 93.

There were 542 people tested at London’s assessment centres Friday. Changes to booking a COVID-19 test changed this week to include online booking at the Oakridge site. The Carling centre is still using a ticket card system, where people line up and are handed a time to come back later in the day.

Province-wide, there were 805 new cases reported on Saturday. The majority of the cases were in Toronto, Peel and York.

The latest count comes as Ontario announced tighter restrictions will take effect in long-term care homes in York Region on Monday to match the recent changes in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel. There will be further limits on visitations and absences.

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