Kelowna is the epicentre of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna is the epicentre of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Image Credit: Flickr/Province of B.C.
July 17, 2020 - 2:58 PM

Each day since the beginning of May the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the entire Interior Health region generally ranged from zero to one.

Suddenly, there have been 21 in the last five days. Health authorities and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have maintained a degree of secrecy about those cases, typically refusing to identify where cases are. But under the circumstances, we can confirm that nearly all of those new cases are in Kelowna and almost all of which are linked to people partying in Kelowna before and after the July 1 holiday.

“We now have 27 cases (associated with those events), 18 of which are in Kelowna,” Dr. Henry said yesterday, July 16, during her COVID-19 update.

While she’s confident that Interior Health is contract tracing people who may have contracted the virus, there were seven new cases reported yesterday. Updated numbers will be provided later today. Many are expecting bad news because what was expected to be an announcement through a press release was changed to a press conference. 

Dr. Henry refers to the events in Kelowna as “community exposure” as opposed to an outbreak. It was a situation where, between June 25 and July 6, a half dozen people from Alberta and the Lower Mainland met with friends in Kelowna where they attended some parties in resort hotels and went out to at least two identified businesses.

READ MORE: 17 people now infected with COVID-19 after private parties in Kelowna

Initial reports had indicated that the people were not known to each other.

READ MORE:Interior Health urges individuals to self-isolate after potential exposure to COVID-19 at Kelowna resort, B&B

During the 11 days of the "exposure" period, there were four new cases reported. Since COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days, some or all of those cases may have been in people living outside Kelowna.

Since July 6, there have been 21 new cases in the Interior Health region. It stretches from the Cariboo to the Alberta and U.S. borders where close to 800,000 people live.

Given that 18 of those were associated with Kelowna’s “community exposure” the only other cases in the entire region were probably the four reported at the Krazy Cherry Fruit Company in Oliver. Initially, two people were reported as infected but that number grew to four yesterday.

READ MORE: UPDATE: 2 COVID-19 cases confirmed at Oliver farm while town hall closes due to positive staff test

At least one of those infected is a temporary foreign worker so that case is not listed as an Interior Health case because infected people are now listed according to where they live. Similarly, any Alberta residents affected by the Kelowna exposure are not included in B.C. numbers.

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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