New COVID-19 cluster in B.C. Interior linked to ‘social events’ in Williams Lake

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Health officials have declared a COVID-19 cluster in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region, after 215 people tested positive for the virus since Jan. 1.

Interior Health said Wednesday 74 of the cases were in First Nations communities. Of the 215 cases, 158 remained active, it said.

Officials said transmission in the majority of cases was related to “recent social events and gatherings in Williams Lake.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Big White cluster grows another 28 cases

The province’s latest geographic breakdown of cases by local health area, covering Jan. 10 to Jan. 16, shows the Cariboo-Chilcotin to be among B.C.’s COVID-19 hotspots, with cases exceeding 20 per 100,000 residents.

“As we have seen in recent years, this community has a history of coming together during challenging times in the face of adversity,” said Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown in a bulletin.

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“Now is no different, we must stay focused and reduce the spread of this virus together by strictly following public health orders and direction.”

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All social gatherings remain banned in B.C. under a public health order that has been extended until at least Feb. 5.

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Interior Health is reminding residents that socialization is prohibited outside of immediate household bubbles.

Read more: COVID-19 positivity rate in small B.C. city ‘as bad as anywhere in the world right now’: doctor

“Please do not invite friends or extended family to your residence for a visit or gathering,” it said.

Interior Health said it would provide regular updates on the cluster on Tuesdays and Fridays.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are scheduled to give their next live COVID-19 briefing on Thursday at 3 p.m.

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