West Kelowna  

Interior Health confirms cases of COVID-19 at Bylands Nurseries

75 Bylands workers isolating

UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.

Seventy-five employees of West Kelowna's Bylands Nursery are self isolating, after 14 of them recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

The outbreak at the nursery was discovered over the weekend, and as such both Bylands Nurseries and their Garden Centre have closed. 

Of the 75 people who are now self isolating, 63 are temporary foreign workers while 12 are local employees. 

Interior Health says the positive cases "may be linked to a group of workers who arrived in Kelowna from outside of Canada on March 12."

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called the outbreak of COVID-19 at West Kelowna's Bylands Nursery the province's "first large community outbreak" of the disease. 

Over the weekend, Interior Health tested a group of temporary foreign workers at the business who were experiencing symptoms. Dr. Henry would only say that "a number of them" tested positive, but the exact number is unclear

Interior Health continues to investigate the outbreak, but it's believed the people contracted the virus while they were in Canada. The group of workers arrived in Canada in early March, before there were any COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Interior Health said the cases "may be linked to a group of workers who arrived in Kelowna from outside of Canada on March 12."

"They did an investigation, a public health follow up, of all of the people who had been in the premise and where they were working," Dr. Henry said. '"Finding out who was in contact with whom."

Dr. Henry said the people who tested positive hadn't been going out in the community since their arrival in Canada.  

"These people were being isolated, in that they weren't going out into the community because they had come in from another country, but there was some considerable mixing on the farm when they were working together," Dr. Henry said. 

"It is a community outbreak that was caught relatively early, we hope, but we will see over the next coming two weeks. There are people right now who are not sick who have been exposed to some of those people who are and they have a probability of becoming ill over the next two weeks. 

"It will be two to four weeks before we understand the extent of this outbreak."

ORIGINAL: 2:40 p.m.

Interior Health has announced an outbreak of COVID-19 at West Kelowna's Bylands Nurseries involving a group of temporary foreign workers.

The group involved is currently residing in on-site housing at the business, and was ordered on March 27 to remain in quarantine on the property until further notice.

A number of the workers have now tested positive for COVID-19. 

Interior Health says the medical health officer who made the order remains confident that the risk of exposure to the public is low because none of the workers interacted with customers and have had very little contact within the community. The business is currently closed.

Interior Health says the workers who are quarantined on site have good housing accommodations which allow for safe self isolation. The company has been fully co-operative with Interior Health.

"These cases may be linked to a group of workers who travelled to Kelowna from outside of the country on March 12," Interior Health says.

Under the order of the medial health officer, Bylands Nurseries "has undertaken several measures including enhanced cleaning of all nursery, housing, sanitary and other facilities accessed by employees as well as denying access to all visitors to the site."

The adjacent garden centre has also closed voluntarily.

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