UPDATE: 12 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: 12 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: Flickr/Province of B.C.
July 17, 2020 - 3:25 PM

Today marked one of the worst days for the number of new COVID-19 cases in the Interior Health region since the pandemic started, with 12 new cases.

There have now been 235 positive COVID-19 tests in the Interior Health region and 35 associated with the community exposure in Kelowna around Canada Day on July 1, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in an unexpected media briefing today, July 17.

She could not say how many of those 35 were people living in the Interior Health region but did say there appears to be a connection to the four cases at the Krazy Cherry farm in Oliver. Two of those cases are with family members and two are with temporary foreign workers, at least one of whom contracted the disease after passing a two week isolation period in Canada.

Dr. Henry held the briefing so she could answer questions about a number of things happening in the province in the last couple of days, including the Kelowna exposure. She expects the number infected in Kelowna will increase in the coming days.

She said it is taking five to seven days for infected people to show symptoms so that we are now in the third generation of exposure.

“If we can find everybody quickly, we can stop that next generation from being exposed,” Dr. Henry said. “Our need is finding people as soon as possible so that they’re early in their incubation period and we can support them staying at home, staying away from others during that 14 day period. And, if they do get sick, nobody’s going to get sick from them.”

People in the same households as those who have COVID-19 have a 14 to 15 per cent chance of also getting sick. The rate of infection in the community is lower, she said, somewhere between 10 and 15 per cent will develop symptoms in the coming weeks.

“It takes several weeks to know (when the spread has peaked),” Dr. Henry said. “There are several hundred people who are being followed right now and some percentage of them will develop symptoms in the coming days and weeks.

“We recognize there were a number of events there,” she said. “We need to think about how to socialize safely.”

She said such community exposures are not unexpected and that she met with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick and Interior Health officials to develop a plan to cope with the growing numbers of infected residents.

Those discussions focused around a communication strategy that will let people know that it’s OK to visit the Central Okanagan but to also post information in places like liquor and grocery stores so visitors know what rules need to be followed in B.C.

She said there were a number of events in Kelowna and the infections are amongst young people in the 20- to 30-year age groups, where they may not notice mild symptoms.

“The parties in Kelowna were done mostly with the right intent,” Dr. Henry said. “They were small parties but with different people every night.”

That’s why it’s essential, she said, to keep track of people who attend such gatherings and to closely monitor for any symptoms.

Overall in B.C., there were 28 new COVID-19 positive tests in the last 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 3,198.

There have been 1,676 in the Fraser Health region, 1,032 in Vancouver Coastal, 136 on Vancouver Island, 68 in the Northern health region and 51 people from outside B.C.

There were now new deaths, leaving the provincial total at 189. There are 207 active cases in B.C. with 18 in hospital and three in intensive care.

— This story was updated at 4:36 p.m. July 17, 2020 with additional information from Dr. Bonnie Henry.

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