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Interior COVID case numbers not dropping as fast as rest of B.C.

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
June 17, 2021 - 6:00 PM

The daily number of COVID cases is not going down as quickly in the Interior as in the rest of B.C. but health authorities don’t seem to know why.

In the last 24 hours there were 43 new cases in the Interior Health region, which is 36 per cent of the 120 cases in all of B.C. and, for a change, worse than the 13 recorded in the Vancouver Coastal health region.

“We’ve been working hard to try and figure it out,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news briefing today, June 17.

“Really, it’s not one thing. There are certain communities where rates are higher and it’s moving around. It’s clusters of cases that happen in smaller communities and the transmission gets controlled. But really, the Central Okanagan has been a bit of a hot spot for awhile in different communities in that area.”

She shrugged off a suggestion that low vaccination rates in some Interior communities may be due to vaccine hesitancy.

“There are very few people that are absolutely against immunization,” Dr. Henry said. “Sometimes they’re very vocal.”

Yet data on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website shows that 16 of 23 Community Health Service Areas in the Interior Health region have vaccine rates of less than 70 per cent of residents over the age of 12.

That compares to only 11 of the other 99 service areas in the rest of B.C.

An Insights West survey earlier this week found that 13 per cent of Interior and Northern health region residents were somewhat unlikely, very unlikely or 100 per cent certain they would not get a vaccine. Eight per cent were 100 per cent certain.

That compares to only five per cent of Vancouver Island residents surveyed saying they were unlikely to get vaccinated and seven per cent of those in Metro Vancouver.

READ MORE: B.C. Interior residents less likely to get COVID-19 vaccine compared to Metro Vancouver: survey

Dr Henry said there are some who may not have confidence in the vaccines, others may be complacent because they haven’t been exposed to how “challenging and terrifying and horrible this virus can be” and for some it’s a matter of convenience.

On the other hand, communities like Richmond that had low vaccine rates have improved so their case counts have gone down, she said.

Richmond City Centre has a vaccination rate of 72 per cent and Steveston is at 80 per cent.

In comparison, the Kelowna neighbourhood of Rutland is at 62 per cent and Lake Country is at 64 per cent.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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