COVID-19 test tube. (Via Getty)

COVID-19 test tube. (Via Getty)

COVID-19 moving out of southern Interior and into the north: IH

IH says vaccinations reaching care homes, Big White cluster hard to control, virus spike in Fernie

Cases of COVID-19 are shifting from the South and Central Okanagan into the north, according to local health authorities.

Interior Health (IH) explained in an updated Jan. 20 that COVID-19 numbers in the B.C. Interior are not going down like they are in other places of the province.

Referencing a rise in cases in the Central Okanagan in mid-December, IH said the virus is now moving north into communities that haven’t been as heavily exposed in the past.

Recently the North Okanagan – Shuswap region, specifically Salmon Arm, has been seeing a rise in cases. In the past week, the BC Centre for Disease Control has reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 in Salmon Arm.

Interior Health chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers compared the spread of COVID-19 to a wildfire, saying it’s moving away from places already “burned”, like the Central Okanagan, and into areas that haven’t yet been exposed.

“In some of the other areas, we haven’t seen a lot of fires. There’s a lot of kindling to go out – there’s still a lot of people that haven’t been exposed.”

Virus still in care homes

In the Central and South Okanagan, two COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care homes have been declared over, but outbreaks in such facilities across the region remain prevalent.

In terms of how its entering care homes in IH, de Villiers hypothesized that it could be a result of residents leaving to visit someone, or inviting in an essential visitor.

However there is hope; by the end of the month, IH hopes to have all staff and residents in long-term care homes in the Interior Health region vaccinated for COVID-19.

“We’re looking forward to… the next group. More people will be encouraged to get vaccinated at that point,” said de Villiers. “It’s Canada, so it’s not mandatory to get the vaccine, but we do strongly encourage this.”

READ MORE: Outbreak at Okanagan long term care homes declared over

As of yesterday, IH has administered 14,211 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes individuals at 117 different care homes in the region.

Big White cases still trending upward

Cases of COVID-19 at Big White Ski Resort continue to climb. On Jan. 19 IH reported the total number of cases on the mountain has risen to 203.

“It’s difficult for us to control because it’s mostly in younger people living and working on the hill. There are some other cases as well, but that’s probably the bulk of it,” said de Villiers.

As these young people often live with other people, de Villiers said it’s hard for them to socially distance themselves.

“We’re trying to keep up with it. If everybody follows the rules, and everybody does what they’re supposed to be doing, we should be able to control it. But it’s not an easy one.”

READ MORE: 28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

One-in-five tests come back positive in Fernie

IH also spoke to a reported spike in COVID-19 cases in Fernie.

According to a Fernie doctor, interviewed by The Free Press, there has been a 20 per cent positivity rate following local COVID-19 tests. IH said they’re working to get to the bottom of this.

“We know there has been some activity, so we do have people working on that to get to the bottom of it, to see exactly what is going on,” said de Villiers.

IH explained if something isn’t defined as a cluster or an outbreak, they will not include it in their daily report, but did confirm there has been an increase in COVID-19 ‘activity’ there.

READ MORE: ‘Horrible’: Number of positive tests in Elk Valley on the rise

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: phil.mclachlan@kelownacapnews.com


 

@newspaperphil
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cube van and a sedan collided at Duncan and Government Wednesday morning. (Brennan Phillips)
Crash snarls traffic at Government and Duncan Wednesday morning

A cube van and sedan crashed in the intersection around 9 a.m.

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The Naramata Slow Society is reviving the Naramata Community Market which will launch in June. (Submitted photo)
Naramata Community Market is coming back

The market will be every Wednesday from June to September

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

This year’s Pink Shirt Day event will be held virtually with the Breakfast in a Box. (Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs photo)
Pink Shirt Day 2021 kicks off with virtual event

“When you’re functioning from a place of kindness, there’s no way that bullying can exist.”

COVID-19 testing at the Vernon Health Services Unit. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Two Vernon high schools exposed to COVID-19

Vernon Secondary and Seaton were sent home notices yesterday of exposure event

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Summerland has received conditional approval for $6 million in federal funding to build a one-megawatt solar array to provide power to the community. (Stock photo)
Summerland council reaffirms solar project in 4-3 vote

Coun. Richard Barkwill had earlier written letters in opposition to initiative

Lake Country residents are warned about another rock slide on Pelmewash Parkway, Feb. 23, 2021. (Melanie Marie photo)
Rockslide on old Okanagan highway

Pelmewash Parkway once again littered with debris

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Most Read