A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared in the Central Okanagan health area amidst an exponential growth of cases.
The announcement was made on Wednesday by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Interior Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Sue Pollock.
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“We are concerned in public health about the quite rapid increase in numbers of people being affected by COVID-19 in the Central Okanagan, particularly in and around the Kelowna area,” Henry said.
Health officials noted that over the past week, 240 COVID-19 cases were recorded in Central Okanagan. Additionally, test positivity for COVID-19 has increased to 6.8% in Interior Health, compared to drastically lower percentages around the 1% mark in other regions of the province.
Fortunately, transmission is not being seen amongst elderly people, vulnerable populations, and young children at this time. A number of health and safety measures, however, are being reintroduced.
Starting tonight at midnight, Interior Health will call for regional mandatory mask usage in all indoor spaces in Central Okanagan community, including the following municipalities:
- West Kelowna
- Lake Country
- Westbank First Nation
- Electoral Districts of the Central Okanagan Regional District
Masks will be required in all indoor public spaces and they’ll be recommended in outdoor areas where individuals aren’t able to physically distance themselves or if they’re not immunized. They will be optional, however, for children under the age of 12 who are attending camps or similar settings.
Health officers will also increase enforcement of COVID-19 measures in businesses and restaurants. Officials say that they will follow up with businesses that have had more than three COVID-19 cases and, depending on the circumstances, they may be required to close.
Additionally, non-essential travel is being discouraged to or from Central Okanagan unless individuals are fully immunized. Visitors are now being asked to check before they plan on travelling.
Health officials also announced that they were decreasing the interval between first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone in the region. Instead of seven weeks, an individual can receive a second dose after 28 days or four weeks past their first dose.
More to come…