86 people across B.C. COVID-positive, stemming from Kelowna

Kelowna cluster grows to 86

The number of people who've been diagnosed with COVID-19, linked to the Kelowna cluster, is now at 86. Seventy-four are residents of the Interior Health region.

Two weeks ago, Interior Health announced that a single group of tourists from Alberta, the Lower Mainland and the Interior met in Kelowna and spread the virus to a number of people in late June and early July. Since then, public health officials have been contact tracing hundreds of people across the province who were connected to this group, or to others who had been in contact with them.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said earlier this week that close to 1,000 people in B.C. were self-isolating due to this Kelowna cluster of cases.

Of the 86 confirmed cases, five are from the Vancouver Coastal Health region and seven are from the Fraser Health region. Dr. Henry has also said that some residents of Alberta had tested positive for COVID-19 after coming in contact with the Kelowna cluster, but it's unclear how many.

And while Friday's numbers only show cases by health authority, data released by the BC Centre for Disease Control Thursday shows the vast majority of cases in the IH region over the past two weeks have come from the Okanagan.

One of the new cases in the Interior Health region is a healthcare worker at Kelowna General Hospital, bringing the total number of staff cases at the hospital to eight.

“This is another community-acquired case, linked to the broader cluster in Kelowna,” IH spokesperson Karl Hardt said in a statement. “This was not an exposure in hospital and we have no evidence of any patient exposures related to these staff cases.”

The B.C. Interior had zero hospitalizations due to COVID-19 for several weeks in a row in June and July, but the region now has two. Hardt would not disclose the age of these people in hospital, or if they are related to the Kelowna cluster.

While cases related to the Kelowna cluster continue to grow, active cases in the Interior Health region have actually fallen as some people recover from the virus. While there were 86 active cases across the region Thursday, IH now has 72 active cases.

Earlier this week, IH said some essential hospital staff are able to come to work if they've been exposed to a COVID-positive person, as long as they are not exhibiting symptoms.

“As per IH protocols and Ministry of Health recommendations, staff experiencing symptoms must stay home from work. We are confident that the individuals impacted by this current situation are following this direction,” Hardt said Friday.

“It is important that anyone requiring medical care at the hospital feels confident in coming to KGH.”

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