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COVID-19 spreading in Sun Peaks ski resort village near Kamloops, B.C.

Click to play video: 'Okanagan ski resorts remain open, despite Whistler Blackcomb closure' Okanagan ski resorts remain open, despite Whistler Blackcomb closure
A new public health order has closed down skiing at Whistler Blackcomb until at least, mid-April. Dr. Bonny Henry cited an increase of COVID-19 cases, particularly the new P1 Brazil variant and transmission from travel to and from other communities, as the reason for the closure. Here in the Okanagan where all three ski resorts will remain open, the decision to shutter B.C.'s biggest ski resort, has come as a shock. – Mar 30, 2021

More test positive cases of COVID-19 were identified at Sun Peaks Ski Resort over the weekend, according to the resort municipality’s mayor.

Al Raine said three more people received a test positive result, bringing the total to 23 active cases.

“What has been helpful for Sun Peaks is anyone who is tested in Sun Peaks, copies of those results are going to the local doctor at the health centre and locally they are following up with everyone who tests positive or informing those who test negative,” Raine said.

Read more: Big White COVID-19 cluster declared contained, resort to end ski season on positive note

Employees at several businesses in the resort’s village have been infected, including staff at Sun Peaks Ski Resort LLP.

“My understanding is it’s quite widespread and about half the people work for Sun Peaks Resort, about half the people who are positive were working at other businesses somewhere the community,” he said.

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“It’s disappointing. We got through the whole winter with just afew cases here and there and then boom in the past week, we have a number of cases. It’s kind of sad, but I could see in the last couple of weeks, no question, people were letting their guard down,” Raine said.

Interior Health will be back on the mountain Monday to perform additional tests, Raine said, but it’s unclear if on-site testing will remain available throughout the week.

Residents and employees may be forced to travel to Kamloops to get a COVID-19 test. Appointments can be booked online here.

“That’s abit problematic, especially for some of the season employees, they don’t all have vehicles so you think you’ve got COVID and then you’ve got to ask someone to drive you down”? he said.

Read more: Okanagan ski resorts to remain open despite Whistler Blackcomb closure

Dr. Carol Fenton, medical health officer with Interior Health, said a COVID-19 outbreak has not been declared at Sun Peaks.

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“The increased COVID-19 activity in Sun Peaks in recent days is concerning and we are monitoring this situation. At this time an outbreak has not been declared. We are currently conducting a thorough case and contact investigation to determine where and when exposures occurred. Interior Health will contact anyone who is required to isolate,” she said in an email.

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Interior Health deploying vaccine to Big White – Mar 18, 2021

“In the meantime, this is another reminder about how important it is for everyone to be following public health orders and guidance including staying home when sick, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing when out, sticking to small bubbles, and keeping up good hand hygiene as we see a high number of cases across B.C. right now.”

Raine said while the increase in cases is concerning, the only saving grace is it came at a good time, during the end of ski season and before the start of summer activities.

Read more: Big White Ski Resort to close early, cites tourism demand from Lower Mainland

The resort shuttered for the season on Easter Monday.

“The biggest concern I have is there are a large number of seasonal employees who left for their summer jobs or left to go home, and I worry about some of them if they were carrying the virus. People who left Sun Peaks should be monitoring too,” Raine said.

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Interior Health is urging recent visitors to the ski resort to self-monitor for symptoms. If they become symptomatic, they should isolate and make an appointment for a test.

Click to play video: 'Big White COVID Slump' Big White COVID Slump
Big White COVID Slump – Feb 18, 2021

Two other B.C. ski resorts were hampered by COVID-19 outbreaks during the 2020-21 ski season.

On March 26, Interior Health declared an outbreak at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, B.C., contained.

“All cases have recovered,” stated a release from Interior Health. “Of the 237 cases of COVID-19 linked to this cluster, 150 have resided and/or worked on Big White Mountain.”

Big White announced they would close a week earlier than scheduled- ending its season on April 5.

On March 29, B.C. health officials announced the province was temporarily shutting down Whistler-Blackcomb, citing an increase of COVID-19 cases, particularly the new P1 Brazil COVID variant, along with transmission from travel between communities, as the reasons for the closure.

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Big White takes swift action following restaurant party – Mar 31, 2021

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