LTC nurse Limin Liu, right, takes a selfie as registered nurse Sasha Vartley, left, vaccinates her with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Fernie COVID-19 cases creep up for fourth week in a row

13 new cases were identified between March 28 and April 3

The number of positive COVID-19 cases locally has increased for the fourth week in a row, with 13 new cases identified in the Fernie Local Health Area (LHA) between March 28 and April 3.

In the previously reported week between March 21 and 27, eight cases were identified locally, up from three the week before, and only one the week before that.

In response to community vulnerability, some small communities in B.C. have had vaccination appointments made possible for all residents over the age of 18 – such as Revelstoke, which saw a COVID-19 case spike over the last few months.

Fernie Mayor, Ange Qualizza said that she would be advocating for Fernie to be treated the same way as Revelstoke as a fellow tourism-dependent community that saw a spike.

“We know the new variants have increased transmissibility and that they are having much more impact on young people, and we need protection,” ssaid Qualizza.

“We need a community solution. The Premier said today that he was ‘outraged’ that people were still travelling to Vancouver Island, but the reality is people are still travelling to popular destinations, just like Fernie which is why I hope we qualify.”

97 cases were linked to a ‘cluster’ in the Fernie LHA spread over three weeks in January. Most cases were linked to informal gatherings rather than businesses, and cases were concentrated around the City of Fernie itself.

At time of publishing, Interior Health had not responded to questions on whether the Fernie LHA would be considered for mass community vaccination.

COVID-19 cases numbers are slowly rising in the Fernie LHA again, in line with the provincial third wave. (Source: BCCDC)

COVID-19 cases numbers are slowly rising in the Fernie LHA again, in line with the provincial third wave. (Source: BCCDC)

Within the East Kootenay region, the Windermere LHA has seen a large spike, with 24 cases identified in the most recent reporting period, up from only three the week before.

Elsewhere, Kimberley reported zero cases last week, while Cranbrook and Golden reported two each and Creston reported eight.

The next update for the current week will be released next Wednesday

Mayor of neighbouring Sparwood, David Wilks has said he’ll be campaigning for Sparwood and Elkford to move up the line for community-wide vaccination, rather than be limited to year-by-year, given those communities dependence on mine workers coming into the valley.

Currently, B.C. is within phase three of the vaccination roll-out, with those in the general population aged between 79 and 60 able to book vaccine appointments on a rolling timeline going year-by-year, with plans for the phase to be completed by early May.

Under the next phase (phase four), those aged between 59 and 18 will be able to get their first shots between May and June, on the same year-by-year rolling eligibility system as the current phase.

READ MORE: Add Sparwood and Elkford to community-wide vaccination program: Wilks



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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