Written by Grace Ji, CNN
The City of Toronto is “pausing” some recreational programs at large-scale pools, community centres and schools, due to a severe “virus outbreak” among unvaccinated staff members.
A total of 33 employees in the Ministry of Recreation are potentially exposed to illnesses including whooping cough, rubella, hepatitis A and polio, according to the Toronto Public Health report.
Officials in Toronto said they are aware of unvaccinated staff being excluded from pools, community centres and parks and the majority of pools and most community centres have been able to remain open.
The total number of staff affected now stands at 34, but the city expects that number to continue to grow.
“While Toronto Public Health is continuing to investigate the case of illness, the City of Toronto is pausing some recreational programs in our pools, community centres and schools, in order to ensure that the majority of services remain available and persons within these locations are not at risk,” the city said in a statement.
Toronto Public Health said in a statement that the delay comes after “an abnormally high number of individuals have presented to the local public health unit with a suspected illness.”
How many confirmed cases of whooping cough are in Toronto?
Only one confirmed case of whooping cough has been reported to Toronto Public Health, and that case is in a child who is vaccinated, according to the public health agency.
Of the 33 employees, 26 work at municipally owned pool facilities in Toronto. The other two work in community centres, and there are no cases in those employees.
At the downtown Peter Brown Pool on Pearson International Airport property, one member of staff has received a vaccination but is currently on leave to avoid sharing an area. Nine members of staff at the Spadina-Rosedale pool remain on leave but have been vaccinated.
Toronto Public Health said the department has reached out to the city and various organizations to “ensure there is no risk to staff currently working” but those with unvaccinated coworkers are being offered time off or alternative locations to work.
The virus appears to be spreading quickly, but Toronto Public Health emphasized that the degree of risk associated with the outbreak is low.
“Viruses mutate frequently, so no two individuals will necessarily acquire the same illness,” the agency said.