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UPDATE: 137 COVID cases linked to UVic cluster, 15 Omicron variant

At least 15 COVID-19 cases from a cluster at the University of Victoria (UVic) have been confirmed as the Omicron variant.

That’s according to Island Health, who said there are now 137 cases associated with the cluster at the university as of Tuesday. The health authority says the cases are associated with people who attended an off-campus event.

The rising COVID cases prompted UVic to reschedule the rest of their in-person classes. In an announcement Sunday, UVic said the remaining exams would go online or to another format starting Monday to decrease student contact for long periods of time.

Island Health says the cases are happening in a highly vaccinated population and the illnesses are very mild. They also add they are not aware of any hospitalizations related to the cluster.

Over at North Island College (NIC), in-person and online exams are almost finished, according to Academic vice president Tony Bellavia.

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Bellavia said because their exams are much smaller than those of UVic, the risk for COVID is lower. He added that Island Health has not told them to move to online exams.

The college is planning to monitor the situation around COVID-19 in the Comox Valley with the Omicron variant, consulting with Island Health and trying to keep their blended in-person and online format.

“We’ll continue to monitor, we’ll continue to talk to Island Health and get their advice,” said Bellavia. “We’ll have students face to face on campus, we were very excited that we had more students in the fall back to face to face. We’ve had no major clusters and we hope that will continue.”

Island Health says UVic’s current mitigation measures are appropriate for the exam period. They say the university is planning to go back to normal operations in January.

Rapid testing kits will be available to access through the university for people who have been identified as close contacts, according to Island Health.

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