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Coronavirus: Number of Kelowna cases rises to 130 with new counting method

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry looks on during her daily COVID-19 briefing.
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry looks on during her daily COVID-19 briefing. Global News

As expected, the number of coronavirus cases linked to Kelowna has risen.

On Wednesday, Interior Health announced that it would be using a new counting method when it came to the number of cases linked to the Kelowna cluster during the Canada Day weekend.

And on Thursday, Interior Health said there were now 130 cases, up from 78 last week.

The health agency noted that all 130 cases are Interior Health residents, and that it will no longer be counting individuals from outside the region.

Read more: Coronavirus: Interior Health to change way it counts Kelowna outbreak

“Previously, the Kelowna cluster investigation counts were based on cases linked to businesses or gatherings in Kelowna, primarily downtown,” IH said in a press release.

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“Currently, we are seeing more broad community transmission so we are expanding our reporting to focus on any cases that are linked to Kelowna during their exposure or infectious period.

“This has caused the number of cases to increase, but this is due to previously reported cases being re-classified and not new cases reported in Kelowna.”

In an interview with Global News, IH medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema said, “here in Kelowna, we had a few months, a couple of months that were very slow in terms of the number of cases that we had.

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B.C. officials report 29 new cases of COVID-19 virus, no additional deaths

“Then, after July 1st, after that holiday, we had a number of cases. And we were able to track those cases down to a few gatherings and a few businesses. And we named those businesses when we knew about them.”

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Mema said since then, Interior Health has been recording more COVID-19 cases.

“We realized that there are cases in Kelowna that are not linked to Kelowna downtown or the waterfront,” said Mema, “which is where this cluster started.

“So we now feel that we need to be able to report all the cases together as a cluster in Kelowna as opposed to downtown to other areas of Kelowna.”

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Asked why the change in counting, Mema said it’s being done to “determine which cases belong to the initial cluster and which ones don’t. Now it’s become a little bit blurry in terms of which case belongs to the original downtown cluster and which ones were not related.”

Mema said IH expanded its case definition, which now includes anybody who has been in Kelowna either during the incubation period or doing the period that they can transmit to others.

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During her daily COVID-19 statistical briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. has faced an increase in new cases and new outbreaks of COVID-19 recently.

“Much of the surge can be connected to Canada Day activities in and around the Central Okanagan,” said Henry, “and particularly around the City of Kelowna.”

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Henry said when groups are too big and there are too many people “outside of our household bubble getting together, particularly when people are coming from different parts and they bring their risk with them — whether it’s different parts of B.C., or different parts of Canada, or some people who are coming here from other countries — we know for the potential for the virus to spread increases.”

Henry said, thankfully, there hasn’t been much spillover into older people, or into healthcare settings or other settings where there is risk.

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Health minister Adrian Dix noted that only five people were in hospital across B.C., the lowest number since the middle of March.

With the August long weekend approaching, he hopes to keep that number low

“In the days, weeks and months ahead, we need to remember this: While B.C. travel is a welcome break from the local places we know, it is not a holiday from the skills that we’ve been taught to stop the spread,” said Dix.

“We must remember to pack our COVID sense, and to use our COVID sense no matter where we are in B.C.”