Kelowna's response to COVID-19 uptick was praised Thursday

Praise for Kelowna response

Just one new COVID-19 case has been identified in the Interior Health region over the past 24 hours, and Health Minister Adrian Dix praised health officials and politicians in Kelowna for their work in helping rein in the large increase in cases that were seen last month.

During Thursday's COVID-19 press conference, Health Minister Dix said the City of Kelowna and Interior Health's response to July's spike in cases can be used as a model for other communities.

“I wanted to express our appreciation to Mayor Basran in Kelowna, whose team with the City of Kelowna really has done an outstanding job working with Interior Health right at the beginning of when we started to see cases in Interior Health and around Kelowna,” Dix said.

“The mayor, members of council, the city, all of the leadership at Interior Health, people such as MLA Norm Letnick, came together with us and started talking about what needed to be done. All of the things that you see in Kelowna, I think they are a model of how we respond.

“The reaching out by Interior Health officials, the reaching out by the city, the working together of communities has had a positive effect and we've actually seen in the past couple of weeks a significant decline in active cases in Interior Health ... People there started to learn from things that had occurred and made adjustments.”

As of Thursday, 18 of B.C.'s 371 active cases are in the Interior Health region. One of the Interior's COVID-19 patients is currently in critical care. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said they're working with bylaw officers and RCMP officers in Kelowna to better enforce the COVID-19 public health orders that are in place.

“There has been a lot of work in the community, in and around Kelowna, but also in other places where people visit regularly, to make sure that public health, bylaw officers and local police are making sure that people are adhering to the requirements that we have,” Dr. Henry said.

“I've been quite impressed by people in those settings, particularly what we've seen in the Interior, where people are doing the right thing.”

The cases in Interior Health spiked in early to mid-July, stemming largely from several private parties in Kelowna attended by a single group of people from out of town. On Thursday, Health Minister Adrian Dix had a clear message for those planning on attending similar gatherings.

“To those who organize private parties, to those who are attending them and those who are thinking of other ways to hold large gatherings in the middle of a global pandemic – enough, that's enough now,” he said.

“Whether we're younger, and want to get out and meet people, let loose and make new friends, we can't the way we used to, we have to adapt.

“Whether it's table hopping, or packed houseboats, or free-for-all parties in a private residence, large groups over an extended time period are the biggest welcome mat there is for COVID-19, and it's time to stop putting out that welcome mat.”

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