The number of COVID-19 cases connected to multiple exposure events in downtown Kelowna and the Mission area over two weeks in late June and early July continue to rise, hitting 27 as of Thursday.
During a press conference Thursday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said 18 of the 27 cases are residents of the Interior Health region, while the others are residents of the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions. It's unclear how many of the 18 are residents of Kelowna.
This increase is more than double the 13 cases Interior Health said had been identified as of Wednesday.
“I believe we're confident that we're finding people and isolating them before they develop symptoms themselves, so that's the way we break those chains of transmission," Dr. Henry said Thursday. "I know they're doing a great job up there, it is a lot of work.”
Last Friday, Interior Health announced eight people who later tested positive for COVID-19 had spent time at private parties, bars and restaurants in the downtown core between June 25 and July 6. Earlier this week, the date range was expanded to July 9.
The cluster stems from a group of people from Alberta, the Lower Mainland and the Interior Health region meeting in Kelowna, and spreading it to others.
Thursday, Dr. Henry said it's important to find a balance that still allows tourism in a safe manner, which involves keeping groups small and maintaining physical distance.
"We need to ensure that we have those measures in place, and that we can have safe meetings and gatherings and get-togethers and parties, with small numbers of people this summer," she said.
Since the initial announcement Friday, Interior Health has released information concerning the movements of some of those infected. They include:
- Cactus Club (1370 Water St.) from July 3-6
- PACE Spin Studio (1717 Harvey Ave.,) on July 2, 4-5 and 7-9
- Discovery Bay Resort (1088 Sunset Dr.) from July 1 to 5
- Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge (3519 Lakeshore Rd.) on July 1
On Wednesday, Interior Health said the outbreak at Oliver's Krazy Cherry Farm Company may be linked to the Kelowna cluster, due to one of the COVID-positive people having visited Kelowna recently. On Thursday, Dr. Henry said there are now four COVID-positive people related to the Oliver outbreak.
BC Centre for Disease Control data shows that since Friday, 18 more residents of the Interior Health region have been diagnosed with the disease, all of whom are believed to be connected to the Kelowna outbreak. While the entire region had just one active case at the beginning of the month, there are now 21 known active cases across the Interior.