After two COVID-19 cases, mobile testing unit set up for bingo players in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

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MONTREAL -- A second person who has played bingo in the last two weeks at a now-infamous hall in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu has now tested positive for COVID-19, health authorities say.

Previously, there was one known person who tested positive after attending a bingo night on Oct. 4 at HR Community Bingo, spurring health authorities to set up a mobile testing clinic in the town.

Friday night, local health authorities said there's now a second positive test for someone who attended a bingo night after Oct. 4, making it imperative for all the bingo players to get tests.

The Friday-night update didn't specify what date the the second person attended the bingo hall.

The mobile testing centre, which was operational Friday, is specifically for the bingo devotees who have gone to events at HR Community Bingo -- including twice in the last week -- though many still don’t believe they did anything wrong.

“We were two metres apart,” said one woman who regularly visits the hall.

The woman said people washed their hands, were distanced from each other and wore masks. Playing bingo has been a Sunday ritual for her for years, she said.

She is one of those the province is trying to reach for a test: one of the nights she visited was Oct. 4.

Earlier on Friday, the province said there’s no bingo-related outbreak yet, though that was before news of the second case.

“It's a precautionary thing. There was no evidence of transmission in that spot,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s Public Health Director, on Friday.

He still encouraged all the bingo participants, most of whom are over 60, to get tests.

Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, just south of Montreal, only became a red zone on Friday, along with several other regions in the province.

It attracted attention early this week after video leaked of a 250-person bingo night at HR Community Bingo on the weekend.

After the province clarified the event was against the rules of the orange zone, which applied at that time, and the limit was 25 people, the same bingo hall again held an event later in the week.

The province has since banned bingo entirely, with Arruda saying “don't go anymore to those places, because we cannot guarantee they are going to be safe.”

While the participants have been slow to agree, others in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on Friday said they didn’t find it hard to understand.

“I think it's pretty clear that we cannot be a bunch of guys all at the same place, at the same time,” said one person.

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