“Outbreak” at national student reporter conference

Ambulance outside of Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites in Victoria, BC.

By Andy Veilleux

(Update: According to Matt Hirji of Canadian University Press, eleven students were hospitalized and “approximately 60 people showed symptoms.” CUP last checked rooms in the hotel around 4 a.m.)

A virus has reportedly broken out at Harbour Towers in Victoria, British Columbia, at the Canadian University Press’ annual NASH conference for student journalists.

At present, the sick count is hovering around 61 students  affecting staff from 30 newspapers, out of the more than 300 people, that attended the conference. The data was mined from Twitter sources, text messages, and Facebook messages, and, while not official, gives a rough estimate of numbers.

Harbour Towers has guaranteed all students at NASH their hotel rooms for another two nights.

With many students slated to leave Victoria Sunday, they have all been advised to postpone their leaving dates, by calling their airlines and explaining the situation.

Emma Godmere, national bureau chief of CUP, confirmed the virus is probably Norovirus – formely known as Norwalk).

“We are currently facing a health situation that is likely an outbreak of Norovirus (used to be called Norwalk), according to BC health officials.”

Godmere offered several tips to student currently stranded. If someone is seriously ill, students are to call the front desk, as medical professionals have been stationed there, according to Godmere.

If someone is sick, they should wait one hour before consuming water and tylenol, but should refrain from using Advil or ibruprofen, according to a release.

Students have been advised to remain in their hotel rooms, although there is no official quarantine yet, Godmere wrote in an advisory email.

If students have any questions, they are asked to call Godmere, at a private number provided in students’ emails, or tweet her @godmere.

For travel information, CUP issued a release: “BC health hasn’t yet officially registered this outbreak, WestJet is basically going ahead as normal. If you have a flight home with WestJet and would like to rebook, call 1 888 493 7853 and dial 1 for the operator. It costs $50 plus the difference to change your flight and you can do so up to two hours after the flight.

Air Canada is also not making any sort of recommendations of their own when it comes to flying versus not flying. If you’d like to rebook, call 1 888 247 2262. If you’re flying Tango, it costs $75 plus tax plus the difference to rebook. If it’s Tango Plus, it’s $50 plus tax plus the difference to rebook.”


  1. I really hope everyone goes home to write stories about how Air Canada is making money off of students struck by an outbreak beyond their control.

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