Advertisement

Dr. Bonnie Henry calls Kelowna, B.C., COVID-19 outbreak ‘concerning,’ says more cases expected

Downtown Kelowna on July 1, 2020. Global News

British Columbia’s top health official is concerned about the coronavirus outbreak in Kelowna.

Holding an unexpected news conference on Friday regarding recent coronavirus outbreaks in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that 35 cases were now associated to the Kelowna outbreak.

One week ago, Interior Health announced a coronavirus advisory for downtown Kelowna after eight people had tested positive following two house private parties during the Canada Day weekend.

Read more: B.C. reports 28 new cases of COVID-19, outbreaks at Vancouver NICU

That number swelled to 13 on July 13, and has grown since.

“This is one of the more concerning issues to us because we recognize that there have been a number of events that have happened there,” said Henry.

Story continues below advertisement

“We need people to start thinking about how we can socialize safely over the coming weeks.”

Henry said the province anticipates that there will be “more cases in the coming days, as people who were exposed are now starting to develop symptoms.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at St. Paul’s Hosptial NICU' COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at St. Paul’s Hosptial NICU
COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at St. Paul’s Hosptial NICU – Jul 17, 2020

She added Interior Health is working closely where the events happened and is following people.

“As you know, with this virus, once you have been exposed, there’s nothing we can do to prevent you from developing the disease,” said Henry.

“We just need to wait it out and ensure that if you do get sick, that you are not passing it on to others. And that’s how we break those chains of transmission.”

Click to play video: 'The pandemic virus is mutating, but there’s no need to panic' The pandemic virus is mutating, but there’s no need to panic
The pandemic virus is mutating, but there’s no need to panic – Jul 17, 2020

During the media question-and-answer period, Henry was asked about the Kelowna outbreak.

Story continues below advertisement

“Unfortunately, the incubation period is 14 days,” said Henry. “We’ve had the first group of cases that we found last week, and then we found the people they were in contact with, so that’s the second generation.

“Those people are now starting to get sick. On average, people start to get sick after exposure about Day 5 to Day 7. So we’re now in the third generation of the people they had contact with.

“So if we can find everybody quickly, we can stop that next generation from being exposed.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Dr. Lukasz Kwapisz answers your COVID-19 questions' Coronavirus: Dr. Lukasz Kwapisz answers your COVID-19 questions
Coronavirus: Dr. Lukasz Kwapisz answers your COVID-19 questions – Jul 17, 2020

In other news, the province also announced 28 new cases, which upped B.C.’s total to 3,198 — including 235 in the Interior Health region.

Of that total, 2,802 have recovered, and there are 207 active cases.

Story continues below advertisement

No new deaths were reported, but there are 18 people in hospital, an increase of three, including two in intensive care.

Read more: Quarantine order issued for South Okanagan farm after 2 COVID-19 cases confirmed

Regarding an outbreak in the South Okanagan, there are now four cases in the Krazy Cherry Fruit Company farm outbreak.

Henry said two temporary foreign workers and two family members that operate the farm have tested positive. She also said it’s thought the outbreak is linked to Kelowna.

Henry also touched on how the province and Interior Health is working with the City of Kelowna “and communities in the Central Okanagan to make sure that we can help people safely enjoy the rest of the summer.”

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s top doctor doubles down on air travel during the pandemic' B.C.’s top doctor doubles down on air travel during the pandemic
B.C.’s top doctor doubles down on air travel during the pandemic – Jul 16, 2020

She also said “while public teams have been extremely effective in identifying and containing transmission, these flare-ups in our communities around the province are a concern. This is not necessarily unexpected, but it is a warning to us that we need to do more to keep things in balance.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is one of the reasons why I felt it was important to speak today.”

Henry said many of the new cases are people in their 20s and 30s, and that COVID-19 transmission is directly connected to social events.

“We know that gathering helps us feel connected and hopeful in these challenging times,” said Henry. “And we want to be able to continue to do that.”

She said typically, coronavirus symptoms in younger people are less noticeable, but that “they can still spread the virus to others,” then asked them “to socialize safely.”

Sponsored content