Health authorities confirm 19 secondary cases tied to Boucherville day camp outbreak

Health authorities dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at a Boucherville, Que., day camp say they have now identified 19 secondary cases connected to the 27 cases confirmed among children and staff.

In an email, Martine Lesage, a spokesperson for the regional public health authority, the CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre, said four new secondary cases were confirmed Thursday, with 15 confirmed previously.

No further cases have been identified among campers and staff at Charlot l'Escargot, Lesage said.

Lesage said the secondary cases were primarily instances of the virus spreading to siblings, parents and friends.

Dr. Christopher Labos, an epidemiologist and cardiologist in Montreal, said that outbreaks in day camps should not come as a surprise, given multiple attendees coming from different households and doing activities together.

But without a vaccine, preventing every infection in day camps — or elsewhere — is also not realistic, he said.

"That is, to a certain extent, going to be logistically impossible," he said. "It's a question of: can you react quickly enough when infections start, to minimize it?"

Some positive cases do not mean "the end of the world," Labos said, "provided that, number one, you can test everybody else, you can screen all the contacts and you can isolate anybody who tests positive so you don't spread the virus to other people."

Positive tests prompted investigation

Last week, regional health authorities began investigating after a counsellor and multiple children who were at the camp tested positive for the virus.

All children and employees who were at the day camp between July 13 and July 21 were ordered to isolate at home for a minimum of 14 days from the last time they attended day camp.

Charlot l'Escargot is closed for another 11 days due to the outbreak.

Gaston De Serres, a epidemiologist at Quebec's public health institute (INSPQ) said though the Charlot l'Escargot situation certainly raises "red flags," there are hundreds of day camps in the province that are open daily without similar outbreaks.

He said officials are watching the situation in different day camps closely to see if other outbreaks are occurring.