Montreal's regional public health director is asking anyone who participated in indoor or outdoor Latin dance events over the past two weeks to get tested for COVID-19, and is reminding people that organized indoor dancing activities are still illegal across the province.
At least three people who contracted COVID-19 participated in one or several Latin dance events since July 31, Dr. Mylene Drouin told reporters Monday.
She said two of the three cases involve people who were contagious, and who participated in outdoor events on Aug. 14 and Aug. 15 in Montreal, adding two other events in the city could be linked to the outbreak.
Drouin said her office has also heard about indoor Latin dance events and reminded people that dancing inside in groups is prohibited because it carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.
She said her office is having a difficult time tracing dance participants, adding that several hundred people in total are estimated to have attended the events that are under investigation.
"We are in a phase where Montreal has few cases right now," Drouin said. "So for each outbreak, we are really doing everything we can to trace the contacts and to try and control transmission as quickly as possible."
Clinics across the city have been notified and are ready to admit people who need to be tested, she said.
The last time public health authorities issued a city-wide testing call-out — to anyone who had worked in or attended a bar in July — clinics were not ready and people stood in line for hours to get tested.
Drouin also said her office is recommending that event organizers keep lists of participants' contact information in the event of an outbreak, something she said wasn't done for the recent Latin dancing activities where outbreaks occurred.
She said people who attend outdoor dancing events should wear masks, wash their hands regularly, and stick to the same dancing partner — ideally someone from the same household.
Meanwhile, Quebec reported 68 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.
Health authorities said Monday two of the deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, one occurred between Aug. 17-22, and the fourth took place before Aug. 17.
Hospitalizations dropped by two, for a total of 115. Of the patients in hospital, 12 are in intensive care, a reduction of two. The province said it conducted 11,372 COVID-19 tests on Saturday, the last day for which testing data is available.
Quebec has reported a total of 61,741 infections and 5,744 deaths since the pandemic began.
This report was first published by the Canadian Press on Aug. 24, 2020.
The Canadian Press