(Bruce Tilley/CBC - image credit)
Eastern Health is recommending additional COVID-19 testing for anyone in the Mount Pearl Senior High School community, even if they have previously tested negative for the virus and do not currently have symptoms.
"I am concerned that there may be some individuals from the Mount Pearl Senior High school population who may have developed COVID-19 infection but remain undiagnosed," Eastern Health's medical officer of health Dr. David Allison wrote in a letter to the school community on Friday.
The letter goes on to say that out of an abundance of caution, "public health is recommending additional testing for staff and students."
The isolation and quarantine period for many people in that community is coming to an end this weekend and early next week, since cases related to the outbreak were identified beginning Feb. 7. Two days later, high schools in the metro region were closed for contact tracing and to identify additional COVID-19 cases.
In a later statement to CBC News, Eastern Health said additional testing will help identify people who had tests done before the incubation period was complete, and to ensure that potentially infectious students or staff "do not contribute to community spread greater than what we have already seen." Students and staff were asked to quarantine from Feb. 7 until Feb. 21, the statement reads.
"With current wait times it should be possible for these individuals to finish the isolation on time. On a case-by-case basis, only those that are found to be COVID-19 positive will need to continue isolation," said Eastern Health.
Eastern Health staff were kept busy at Mount Pearl Senior High. The new testing site is now located at the Reid Community Centre.
Allison and Eastern Health said everyone who attended Mount Pearl Senior High who have received a negative test result, whether or not they have symptoms, should be retested prior to the end of their isolation period. These people must have a negative test result before they leave isolation.
"In addition, those staff and students who did not have any symptoms and were not initially tested, should now proceed to make an appointment for COVID-19 testing," said Allison.
Students and teachers must fill out the online COVID-19 self-referral form or call 811 for testing. Allison said they will be provided testing time at the Reid Centre in Mount Pearl.
As of Saturday the average turnaround time from completing the online self-assessment form to having a booked appointment is less than 24 hours, said Eastern Health, while the average turnaround time for lab test results is currently six to eight hours.