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 health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Fernie Meat Market owner Mark Brown with the newest addition to his Griz Pins collection. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Griz Days this weekend!

The 44th annual Griz Days will be mostly online

STA members and non-members alike are encouraged to send in photos of their trail adventures. (Photo contributed by Scott Tibballs)
STA plots another trail for Lunch Network

The network will consist of 6km of trail outside of Sparwood

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge in Sparwood could be at risk without mitigation works. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood secures grant funding for bridge repairs

The district has secured $703,000 in funding from UBCM

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read