Interior Health stops on-site COVID-19 testing at Sun Peaks, 25 positive cases confirmed

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Interior Health said there will be no further on-site COVID-19  testing at Sun Peaks Ski Resort near Kamloops, B.C., in the wake of several positive cases at the recreational ski village.

Testing has been ongoing in the community on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but the regional health authority said pressure on available resources will prevent it from continuing to offer the service.

“Our medical health officer is confident that Kamloops public health testing centre will be able to accommodate any remaining people who require testing so no further testing will take place at Sun Peaks at this time,” said a statement from Interior Health.

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

“As many nurses as possible are required at the central testing location and at the many immunization clinics that are taking place across the Thompson region. We have to carefully allocate resources where they are best used to help the majority of the population. The focus now is on immunizations to get people protected against COVID-19 as quickly as possible,” IH said.

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Al Raine, the resort municipality’s mayor, said two tests on Sunday came back positive, bringing the total positive case count at Sun Peaks to 25.

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Interior Health would not confirm that number, because a cluster or outbreak has not been declared at Sun Peaks, it said.

“So far, we have not seen the widespread transmission in Sun Peaks that we saw in Big White and public health has not made an outbreak or cluster declaration,” the regional health authority wrote.

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

“Although a local physician is periodically sharing his patient’s COVID status, we cannot speak to that reporting process, however can confirm COVID-19 activity is increasing throughout Interior Health, including Sun Peaks.”

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Raine is concerned about the discontinued testing clinic at Sun Peaks.

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He said symptomatic seasonal workers without a vehicle will be forced to ask someone for a ride. There is no bus service between Kamloops and Sun Peaks and a taxi costs approximately $100 for the 57-kilometre journey.

“It’s a bit tricky if somebody doesn’t have a vehicle and they are here and feel they need to be tested, they are going to have to rely on somebody else driving them down.”

Raine added he’s hopeful health officials have the initial cluster of COVID-19 cases contained. At least two dozen test results on Monday returned a negative result, he said.

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

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“I think at this point it appears that that group has been contained and hopefully the pressure is off of us now, we’re going to need another week before we know for sure.”

Several employees of various businesses in the resort’s village were infected by the disease, Raine said, and many businesses have temporarily closed.

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The timing worked out as the ski resort shuttered for the season on Monday, April 5. There is a normal lull at the ski village until summer activities ramp up.

Sun Peaks Resort LLP released a statement on Monday, acknowledging a number of positive results involve “guest-facing functions” of resort businesses.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all Sun Peaks Resort-operated guest-facing business functions are currently closed. This includes our food and beverage outlets, rental and retail stores, Guest Services office, as well as our daycare facility. Staff members are available to assist via phone and email as required,” the statement said.

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According to the Sun Peaks Community Health Centre, none of the positive cases are very ill or required hospitalization.

Meanwhile, Sun Peaks has been identified as a rural or remote community in the Interior Health region eligible for whole community vaccination clinics.

All residents 18-plus can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at an on-site clinic to be held May 4-7. More information can be found on the Interior Health website. 

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