WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has informed the University of Windsor that an unauthorized Halloween party in a student residence has led to what is now being declared an outbreak.

The health unit has confirmed five students have tested positive for COVID-19, while an additional 13 are self-isolating.

Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says the earliest symptoms were reported on Nov. 6.

“The index case had visited outside of Windsor-Essex and then attended the party while having some mild symptoms and other individuals are now quarantining at this time as they are monitoring their symptoms as we speak," Ahmed said.

Ryan Flannagan, associate vice-president of student experience at the university told CTV News there was a gathering of mostly first year students at Alumni Hall from a variety of different programs.

He said the university followed up with the students and “made it very clear” what their expectations are moving forward, treating this instance as an education opportunity.

WECHU also conducted an investigation.

“The University of Windsor has quickly taken the appropriate measures in cooperation with the Health Unit – there is no ongoing risk to the students at this time,” said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, WECHU’s medical officer of health.

In addition to the Halloween party, the health unit is monitoring a separate cluster of cases after five nursing students — four students from the University of Windsor and one from St. Clair College — tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Ahmed said the nursing students who already interact with each other had a gathering which resulted in a transmission within that group. Four of the students live together.

The health unit is still investigating acquisition and have yet to determine where the students contracted the virus.

University officials say they have implemented extensive additional cleaning protocols and affected students have been moved to a separate building location.

“This is a strong reminder to our student community that we cannot become complacent with our protocols and guidelines during this pandemic. There is simply too much at stake and we need to be stringent now more than ever,” said University of Windsor president Rob Gordon.

“We all need to be responsible and consider how our behaviour today may affect our friends, family, and members of the larger community tomorrow,” he added.

UWindsor is currently following a remote learning model with most classes being held online this semester.