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17 COVID-19 cases connected to Adult and Teen Challenge outbreak

The health unit says it continues to work with people in facilities affected by the outbreak.
Adult and Teen challenge
Adult & Teen Challenge operates at several locations including Johnson Avenue in Thunder Bay (Google Street View)

THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says so far it has confirmed that 17 cases of COVID-19 are connected to an outbreak at two Adult & Teen Challenge facilities in the city.

All are listed in the exposure category "close contact."

TBDHU issued an update late Wednesday, after initially reporting on Saturday that two individuals involved with the organization's men's and women's centres had tested positive, and that several others were considered probable cases.

People at risk were immediately isolated, and additional test results were returned over the succeeding days.

The health unit says both centres remain closed to any visitors.

All impacted individuals, including active cases and high-risk contacts, will remain in isolation at the centres or in their homes until they are cleared by public health.

TBDHU said it continues to work with residents and staff by monitoring and providing support until the full risk period is over.

It said further cases may occur among individuals who are currently isolating.

Adult & Teen Challenge offers long-term addiction recovery services, and is supported by the Super Thrift Store on Johnson Avenue and the Super Thrift Christmas Store on North Cumberland Street.

The businesses were also closed as a precaution.

Customers are considered by the health unit to be at low risk.

However, members of the public could have been exposed to the novel coronavirus at the Super Thrift Store on Nov. 3 between 2:30 and 6 p.m., and Nov. 4 to 6 anytime between 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Customers could have been exposed to the virus at the Super Thrift Christmas Store on Nov. 5 between noon and 6 p.m.

The health unit advised anyone who entered the stores during those periods to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

The director of Adult & Teen Challenge Northwestern Ontario, Robby Ahuja, said programming for their clients that's usually conducted elsewhere would be modified so that it could temporarily be provided on-site.

Ahuja added that the pandemic has heightened the need for addiction supports in the community, as isolation is a major challenge for people in recovery.