The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.

‘Kudos to our community’: Fernie cluster numbers headed in right direction

Cases down, vaccines on the way, but no time to breathe easy just yet

The number of COVID-19 cases linked to the cluster in the Fernie local health area are going in the right direction thanks to responsible behaviour from locals according to a local doctor.

“I would definitely say kudos to our community,” said Dr. Tara Chalmers-Nixon of the Elk Valley Hospital.

“There’s only one way to prevent community transmission, and that’s by not giving it to somebody else. When the cluster was declared and the seriousness of the situation was identified, people did what they were meant to do for the most part – they stayed home, they isolated, and didn’t transmit it.”

What potentially set Fernie apart from its fellow ski towns that had outbreaks was it’s lack of staff housing.

“We don’t have housing for the ski hill like most other ski hills do in the province,” said Chalmers-Nixon, who said that while Fernie had a lot of shared housing in individual buildings, there were no large apartment buildings of shared facilities.

“It meant we were able to nip it in the bud a little more easily than Big White.”

Chalmers-Nixon said the declaration of a local cluster from Interior Health (IH) appears to have worked, with the increased vigilance, attention and resources since Jan. 27 when there were 63 cases. That has since dropped to 13 active cases in the latest IH update (as of writing – Feb. 8). UPDATE: Since writing, active cases are now down to three.

“It’s absolutely going in the right direction,” she said.

“We could still be called a cluster for a long time, which I see potentially as a good thing in that we are under increased vigilance from public health, and resources allotted to our community.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t time to breathe easy either here or when thinking about provincial numbers just yet.” said Chalmers-Nixon.

“We are in a province that has maintained certain things open that other provinces hadn’t… and so time will tell if all the numbers continue to come down.”

Daily cases remain around 400 for all of B.C., and the added concern of the COVID-19 variants appearing in Canada make things uncertain.

“I think we’re in a little bit of a holding pattern. I am not ready to relax yet,” she said.

“Just like everybody in the community we’re all feeling the strain of only having dinner with your immediate household and not seeing friends and extended family. Its asking a lot of our world to hold the course.”

One of the factors that will potentially bring normality are the vaccines being delivered across Canada. Chalmers-Nixon said despite news reports of delayed delivery, the Fernie local health area was on schedule for its vaccination program, with the next deliveries to be this week.

“Our understanding is the doses are coming, and those people that received their first dose will be receiving their second dose during the month of February and then we start looking at the larger population after that.”

READ MORE: Henry says COVID vaccine supply to increase in February; total cases top 70,000
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Until then, Chalmers-Nixon said the local health community was faring well, and the local hospital thankfully had not appeared to be over-stretched by extra demand.


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

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The cost of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam has grown to $16 billion and the completion has been moved up a year to 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BC Liberal energy critic blasts ‘lack of transparency’ on Site C

MLA Tom Shypitka says Site C going ahead is a ‘good thing’, blames NDP for mismanagement

Volunteers from the Elk River Alliance cleared 14 car batteries from the Elk River near Elkford this week. (Photo contributed)
Elk River Alliance to move to more holistic environmental monitoring

The details of the ERA’s 2021 program will be discussed at the AGM next month

The Kitimat RCMP responded to false alarms, an apartment fire and more between Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Sparwood backs campaign to study Surrey RCMP impact

The City of Surrey is home to the largest RCMP detachment in the province

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

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

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

Most Read