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Kelowna COVID-19 outbreaks linked to hotel parties: B.C. health minister

B.C. health officials use contract tracing in Kelowna COVID-19 outbreak
Health Minister Adrian Dix commented Monday on a recent coronavirus outbreak that occurred at two resorts in Kelowna. Keith Baldrey has the details on this and an update on the wage subsidy program that has been extended.

A party involving some Metro Vancouver residents, mainly in their 20s and 30s, is being blamed for a COVID-19 outbreak in Kelowna.

Originally eight COVID-19 cases were linked to gatherings at Discovery Bay Resort from July 1 to 5 and Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge on July 1. Five additional cases have now been linked, for a total of 13.

Kelowna businesses react after locations identified as possible COVID-19 exposure sites
Kelowna businesses react after locations identified as possible COVID-19 exposure sites

“The challenge with community transmission is that it is difficult to know exactly how many new cases of COVID-19 are associated with the cluster of cases who visited Kelowna; this is what we investigate through ongoing contact tracing,” a statement from Interior Health reads.

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The cases involved people who live in three regions of the province, including the Interior, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions, Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

Contact tracing has linked one positive test in the Lower Mainland back to the Kelowna hotel.

Read more: Health officials probing house parties in wake of Kelowna COVID-19 exposure advisory

“This is almost the detective work of public health,” Dix said.

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“The main inciting incident, it would appear, were private parties held in those resort hotels.”

Dix says some of the people gathering in Kelowna did not know each other before the hotel party.

New concerns about how COVID-19 was spread in Kelowna
New concerns about how COVID-19 was spread in Kelowna

“When people come together for private parties, in this case it was primarily people in their 20s and 30s, the risks are considerably higher,” Dix said.

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“They tend to involve people coming from different walks of life and may not know each other at all. Those risks of those kinds of events are higher. People need to show good judgment in respect to events.”

Interior Health has directed any individuals who attended gatherings at the two hotel resort locations to self-isolate and monitor themselves closely for symptoms.

The health authority is urging visitors to Kelowna’s Cactus Club restaurant on Water Street between July 3 and July 6, or the Pace Spin Studio on July 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 to self-monitor and get tested if COVID-19 symptoms appear.

“If you rent a space, own a space, you have obligations too. If you are going to go and accept a reservation to an event you have to keep the risks in mind,” Dix said.

“We have to live with COVID-19 for the next year. So I think the responsibilities are on all of us to understand the risks and understand our responsibilities.”

The Cactus Club has sent a statement detailing the restaurant has conducted a thorough deep clean and Interior Health has confirmed their ‘full satisfaction with our safety and prevention practices’.

The restaurant previously had put in specific measures include seating groups six feet apart or with a physical barrier between tables, mandatory usage of masks and other PPE by staff, and rigorous cleaning and kitchen protocols have been adopted to keep our restaurants safe.

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The Centre for Disease Control has also issued an advisory for Air Canada flight 8421, which travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6.

The CDC is recommending that passengers self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days following the flight.

— With files from The Canadian Press and Megan Turcato