COVID-19 in B.C.: New restrictions for Central Okanagan as outbreak escalates; over 450 new cases; and more

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      Despite health measures being previously announced to address the COVID-19 outbreak in the Central Okanagan, cases in the region have continued to mushroom in number.

      Consequently, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Interior Health chief medical officer Dr. Sue Pollock held a news conference today (August 6) to announced new restrictions to try to stem the spread of the virus.

      Previously n July 28, Interior Health had declared an outbreak in the Central Okanagan and announced health measures for the region, which includes Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country, Rutland, and the Westbank First Nations.

      “Unfortunately, we’re here today because these measures have not led to significantly reduction in COVID transmission throughout the Central Okanagan,” Pollock said.

      In fact, she said that over the past week, the outbreak had “almost tripled”, from approximately 320 cases when the outbreak was declared to about 1,200 cases today.

      Of the province's cases, Dix said that 56 percent of active cases (with the “vast majority” in the Central Okanagan), 46 percent of intensive care unit cases, and 37 percent of hospitalizations are in Interior Health.

      In Interior Health, Pollock said there are 31 people who are hospitalized, with 10 of them in critical care. She added that this outbreak is impacting staffing at hospitals, access to home community care services, and healthcare services throughout the region.

      Henry added that there are dozens of staff in acute care facilities who have been infected, in addition to outbreaks declared at longterm care facilities.

      Both Henry and Pollock said that the majority of new cases are taking place among the unvaccinated or undervaccinated, particularly among those aged 20 to 40, but that there has been “spillover” into healthcare facilities.

      Henry pointed out that even with full vaccinations, the virus can still spread in longterm healthcare facilities, particularly the highly transmissible Delta variant.

      “This is not where we wanted to be right now,” Henry said.

      Interior Health chief medical officer Dr. Sue Pollock

      Accordingly, Henry announced several new orders from Pollock for the Central Okanagan region, including:

      • personal gatherings: outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people while indoor gatherings will return to a limit to five people or one other household;
      • organized gatherings: indoor seated gatherings will be limited to 50 people while outdoor organized gatherings will be limited to 50 people;
      • food and beverage establishments: all nightclubs and bars will be closed while restaurants and eateries will revert to limitations on groups of up to six people, and liquor service will only be allowed until 10 p.m.;
      • casinos: can continue to operate under current restrictions;
      • fitness: indoor low-intensity group exercise can continue under current limitations but indoor high-intensity will be suspended;
      • rental accommodations: will have a maximum of five people plus the occupants;
      • masks: the mandatory mask-wearing mandate will continue for all indoor public spaces, and is enforceable by bylaw and health officers;
      • travel: anyone with travel plans for the Central Okanagan is “strongly” encouraged to postpone or cancel plans;
      • events: safety plans must be in place for those that cannot be cancelled, and lists of attendees should be kept.

      All measures are effective today, except for the events and gatherings order, which will be effective as of Monday (August 9).

      Pollock said that the new restrictions will resemble circuit-breaker measures.

      Pollock is calling upon all young adults to get vaccinated, to help bring the outbreak under control. She added that they are holding pop-up clinics at convenient places, such as at farmers’ markets and the Kelowna Yacht Club, as will be holding clinics at post-secondary institutions in September.  

      As previously announced, the dose interval for Central Okanagan residents has been reduced to 28 days.

      B.C. update: August 6

      For a third consecutive day this week, B.C. has hit a new high for the daily case count, compared to previous weeks.

      Today, B.C. is reporting 464 new COVID-19 cases (including one epi-linked case).

      Active cases increased again. As of today, there are 2,411 active cases, which is an increase of 345 more cases since yesterday.

      Hospitalizations also grew in number. Today, there are 52 individuals are in hospital (six more than yesterday), and 24 of those patients are in intensive care units (three more than yesterday).

      The new and active cases include:

      • 275 new cases in Interior Health, with 1,356 total active cases (235 more cases then yesterday);
      • 72 new cases in Fraser Health, with 486 total active cases (37 more cases);
      • 60 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, with 324 total active cases (34 more cases);
      • 29 new cases in Northern Health, with 88 total active cases (21 more cases);
      • 27 new cases in Island Health, with 145 total active cases (18 more cases);
      • one new case of a person who resides outside of Canada, with 12 total active cases (same number as yesterday).

      No new COVID-19-related deaths have been reported. The overall total number of fatalities is now at 1,772 people who have died.

      With 117 recoveries since yesterday, a cumulative total of 147,627 people who tested positive have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 151,839 COVID-19 cases.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Vaccinations

      Since December 2020, the Province has administered 6,993,104 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

      As of today, 81.8 percent (3,790,394) of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 68.9 percent (3,195,128) have received their second dose.

      In addition, 82.7 percent (3,575,597) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose and 71 percent (3,071,655) have received their second dose.

      Outbreaks and exposures

      None of the five regional health authorities declared any new community outbreaks, and didn’t list any new business closures.

      Currently, there are six active outbreaks in longterm care facilities:

      • Holyrood Manor in Fraser Health;
      • Nelson Jubilee Manor, Kootenay Street Village, Cottonwoods Care Centre, Brookhaven Care Centre in Interior Health;
      • Discovery Harbour in Island Health.

      Fraser Health listed a public exposure at Boston Pizza (20090 91A Avenue) in Langley from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. from July 27 to August 2.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.

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