Fraser Health's chief medical health officer says the COVID-19 outbreak at a Chilliwack dance studio meets the definition of a "superspreader event."
During a conference call on Wednesday, Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin was asked whether the term could be applied to the outbreak at Capella Dance Academy, which was declared Monday and now has 38 cases associated with it.
"A superspreader event refers to an event where a significant number of people appear to have been exposed by a single source or a single setting," Brodkin said. "Typically, one person who has COVID-19 will infect one or two others, most often people from their own household, but in this case, obviously, a much larger number of people were infected due to an exposure in a single setting, so yes, this does meet the definition of a superspreader event."
In addition to the 38 people who have tested positive, the outbreak has led to exposure events at 13 different schools, Fraser Health officials said on the call.
Dr. Victoria Lee, the health authority's president and CEO, stressed that there have been no "secondary cases" associated with the school exposures.
When the outbreak was announced on Tuesday, there were 30 cases and 10 school exposures associated with it.
Parents have expressed frustration online about how long it took them to be notified that there may have been associated exposures at schools.
Sarah Wood, the dance academy's owner, said in a written statement to media that she woke up feeling ill on Friday, Oct. 23 and hasn't left her home since. By the following Monday, she had tested positive for COVID-19.
The school district did not issue notifications to parents for nearly a week after Wood found out she was positive, though it is not clear when the school exposures occurred.
Asked on Wednesday about the contact tracing process and whether she was satisfied with the amount of time it had taken, in this case, Brodkin said simply that "the timelines were met."
She added that the health authority would be reaching out to Wood directly to discuss any lingering questions or concerns the studio owner has about the timeline of events.
Lee began the call Wednesday by providing a detailed overview of Fraser Health's contact-tracing process, and she urged members of the public to be kind to each other and to business owners like Wood.
"I'd like to acknowledge that this is a difficult time for all," she said. "The intent of outbreaks is not to blame or stigmatize individuals or businesses. We need to ensure that, especially during these times, we support one another and support our community members."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber and Alyse Kotyk