Four-day delay in IH's disclosure of Liquid Zoo COVID exposure

Delay in COVID notification

It's unclear why it took Interior Health four days to disclose the latest COVID-19 exposure event in Kelowna to the public, after the establishment had closed down.

Castanet received a tip on the evening of July 24 that the Liquid Zoo had been closed due to a COVID-19 exposure at the strip club. But when Castanet reached out to Interior Health for confirmation of the exposure, IH did not respond.

It wasn't until four days later, on July 28, that Interior Health released a public service announcement, warning of the COVID-19 exposure at the club from July 15-18. By the time IH publicly disclosed the exposure, the 14-day period that patrons of the bar were asked to self monitor for had all but expired.

IH would not provide an explanation for what caused the delay in notifying the public.

Castanet has also learned after the fact that other local establishments had staff diagnosed with the virus, but IH never made any public announcements.

“IH identifies the location of confirmed cases when public health providers cannot be certain they have reached all those who need to be contacted and where there might be a risk to the broader public,” said Karl Hardt, spokesperson with IH.

“Organizations or businesses will be contacted directly if a case is identified for awareness and to ensure appropriate follow-up."

Some establishments, like Kelowna's Rustic Reel Brewing Company and Lake Country's Turtle Bay Pub, took extra precautions themselves, temporarily shutting down and telling the public while staff members awaited COVID-19 test results. In both cases, the staff members tested negative, and the restaurants reopened.

Since June 26, 137 residents of B.C.'s Interior have contracted COVID-19, linked to Kelowna. The bulk of these cases stem from a single group of tourists who attended several parties in town over the Canada Day long weekend.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has emphasized in the past the importance of finding people who've been exposed to COVID-19 quickly when contact tracing, to make sure those people isolate from others.

Through this quick contact tracing, the goal is to reduce third and fourth generation transmissions of the virus.

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