Despite following COVID-19 protocols, indoor cycling classes at a Spinco fitness studio have triggered a coronavirus outbreak of at least 72 people in Ontario, Canada, public health officials say. As many as 100 staff, clients, and family members may have been exposed, CNN reported.
The Spinco studio had just reopened in Hamilton, Ontario, in July, and was adhering to coronavirus safety rules, said Elizabeth Richardson, MD, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, in a statement to CNN. These included screening staff and attendees, tracking attendees, masking before and after classes, laundering towels, and cleaning rooms within 30 minutes after the conclusion of a class. According to city officials, Spinco was also operating at half-capacity and maintained a six-foot radius of space around each bike.
“We took all the measures public health offered, even added a few, and still the pandemic struck us again,” the studio wrote on Instagram. The outbreak appears to be linked to classes held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4, and Spinco Hamilton has been closed since the outbreak was identified. Of the confirmed positive cases associated with the studio, 47 are primary cases (45 patrons and two staff members) and 25 are secondary cases, indicating “household spread” to family, friends, or other contacts.
There has been concern about indoor workout classes potentially aiding coronavirus transmission, but this appears to be one of the largest related outbreaks yet. Officials are particularly concerned because the facility was closely following health protocols. “We continue to look at what does it mean, what do we need to understand about exercise classes,” Dr. Richardson said in a media briefing on Oct. 13, according to CNN.
Linsey Marr, PhD, an expert on airborne transmission and a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, noted on Twitter that the protocol did not appear to require effective ventilation at the studio — an increasingly critical factor considering the potential for airborne spread of the virus. “Six feet is not enough,” she wrote. “The gym did health screening, cleaning, masks before and after class, 50% capacity, and 6′ around each bike. NOTHING ABOUT VENTILATION.”
According to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a public health spokesperson said that the size of the outbreak, in spite of adherence to protocol, “will likely contribute to a change in guidelines and practices moving forward.”