Island Health reports five new COVID-19 cases

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B.C.’s first school outbreak was announced today by Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.

Island Health reported five new cases of COVID-19 today. There were 274 new cases of the virus, but no deaths, across the province in the past 24-hours. B.C.’s first school outbreak was announced today by Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.

“Public health teams in Interior Health identified there was unlinked transmission. Initially, there were three cases identified and as of today, as the investigation continues, we’re up to five cases that are related in the school community,” she said. 

As a result of the outbreak in Kelowna, 160 people from the school community are at home self-isolating. No new community or health-care outbreaks were reported. 

There are 1,920 active cases in B.C., including 71 people who are hospitalized and 24 people in ICU, according to Henry. 

Since school resumed in the fall, there have been 213 school exposure events and six clusters — a situation where more than one person in a school is exposed to the virus, according to Henry.

“We are not seeing return to school causing amplification [of positive COVID-19 cases] in our communities, but it does — as we’ve been expecting — reflect what is going on in our communities,” said Henry, adding the majority of exposure events in schools did not lead to transmission of the virus. 

She said social gatherings are a significant source of COVID-19 transmission in B.C. Cases from gatherings, including weddings and family reunions, are spreading to other parts of the community such as health-care facilities and workplaces, according to Henry. 

“As much as I am hesitant to do so,” said Henry. “If there is a major source of transmission, additional measures can and will be put in place, if they’re needed.”

Conditions tied to wedding licenses and increased restrictions on numbers in indoor gatherings could both be implemented to reduce transmission of the virus, she said. 

“This is a critical time as we’re heading into our influenza season, as we are focusing on the priorities in our communities of keeping our businesses and schools open for the health and well-being of all of our communities,” she said.

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