Senior News Editor
The 74th annual Canadian University Press conference, held in Victoria, BC ended on a sour note after an evening of celebration ended with numerous conference delegates reporting dizziness, nausea and vomiting following dinner on Jan. 14.
The illness spread rapidly among the 360 guests attending the four-day conference. By the morning of Jan. 15, over 60 people had been infected with what was later determined to be the Norovirus, and 11 people had been sent to the hospital.
Following the dinner and a keynote speech was a celebratory gala held at the University of Victoria, which was cancelled as people began feeling ill on the shuttle bus transporting guests to the gala.
Rumours went rampant on Twitter, which served as a source of updates, jokes and precautions about the spreading virus. The conference, this year called Archipelago, was comically renamed ‘Barfipelago,’ and on Jan. 15, the Harbour Towers Hotel, which hosted the conference, was under voluntary quarantine as a result of the virus.
Conference staff was diligent in monitoring attendees, providing assistance and advice to ill guests.
All who were symptom-free were separated from those who were ill. Meanwhile, many delegates travelling from great distances were forced to reschedule their flights – a process that proved to be a frustrating process for many.
Among those ill were four of the seven delegates from The Silhouette, including Executive Editor Brian Decker, who pleaded with Westjet on behalf of his staff to waive the expensive rebooking fee for the flight home, while coping with the flu himself. The Sil editors were scheduled to return to Hamilton on Jan. 15, but returned instead on Jan.16.
The exact cause of the flu has not been determined. While reports at first questioned the food served on the evening of Jan.14, it has since been said that a delegate brought the illness into the hotel prior to dinner.