COVID-19 Delta variant accounts for 89% of new infections in Interior

Delta variant widespread

The Delta variant now accounts for the vast majority of all recent COVID-19 infections in B.C.'s Interior.

In its weekly update, the BC Centre for Disease Control says 89 per cent of the 314 positive tests between July 18 and 24 in the Interior Health region were B.1.617.2, or Delta variant. The other 11 per cent of cases were the P.1, or Gamma variant.

This high proportion of the Delta variant is somewhat unique to the Interior. Over the same period, 61 per cent of new cases provincewide were the Delta variant, with the Gamma variant making up 28 per cent and the B.1.1.7, or Alpha variant coming in at 10 per cent. Variants of some kind now make up about 99 per cent of all new cases in B.C.

Vancouver Island is dealing with solely new Delta variant cases, but that region saw only 30 new cases between July 18 and 24.

The Delta variant was first discovered in India in late 2020, and it's become the most transmissible variant of the COVID-19 virus to date.

The proliferation of the Delta variant is one reason for the widespread transmission of the virus in the Interior in recent weeks, particularly in the Central Okanagan.

On Wednesday, Interior Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak across the entire region, and reinstated the indoor public mask mandate in the Central Okanagan only. More than half of B.C.'s daily COVID-19 cases now regularly come from the Interior, despite the region making up less than 15 per cent of the province's population.

The most recent geographical data from the BC CDC shows the daily infection case rate in parts of Kelowna has skyrocketed to levels only seen in the worst hit parts of Surrey during the peak of the third wave this spring.

Downtown Kelowna has been the worst hit, with an average daily infection rate of 40 cases per 100,000 between July 23 and July 29. This works out to more than 100 new infections over that week period in Downtown Kelowna alone.

The Glenmore area saw an daily infection rate of 30 cases per 100,000 people, while Rutland posted a daily rate of 21 per 100,000 people.

As a result of the high concentration of new cases in the region, the BC CDC has begun using a new colour on its COVID case rate map to accurately show the high case rates in Downtown Kelowna, Glenmore and Rutland.

Case rates have also increased significantly in the past week in the Okanagan Mission, West Kelowna and Lake Country, reaching 19, 18 and 12 daily infections per 100,000 people respectively.

Meanwhile, new cases have plummeted in the Lower Mainland in the past month. While Surrey was once by far the worst hit spot in the province, with close to 2,000 weekly cases back in April, the city now sees an average of just one daily infection per 100,000 people.

Interior Health continues to push Central Okanagan residents to get vaccinated, to help curb the spread of the virus.

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