As COVID cases bloom, Interior Health sounds warning and makes plea

·2 min read

Officials at Interior Health are now discouraging non-essential travel and asking citizens to be vigilant as COVID-19 cases surge in the region.

“Due to higher rates of COVID-19 being detected, Interior Health is concerned by the upward trend and frequency of new clusters in the region,” says a recent release by the health authority, which manages health care in the southeast of the province.

As of November 16, Interior Health has had 1,088 cases in total since the start of the pandemic, with one person currently in intensive care. There have been three confirmed deaths in the health region.

While the Okanagan and Kamloops remain the hardest-hit areas of the Interior Health Authority, the new warnings come as cases also rise in our immediate area.

In Salmo, the coronavirus infected a reported 10 people earlier this month; at least one individual attended the community’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, though there’s no report yet of community transmission from the any local events.

“While we cannot provide specific numbers, we can say that cases to date appear to be tied to a small number of recent gatherings at various locations in the broader Salmo area,” says an IH official. “At this time, there is no evidence of widespread transmission in the community and an outbreak has not been declared.”

All identified active cases of COVID-19 have been directed to self-isolate and public health continues to follow up directly with all close contacts to offer guidance and support.

Other Local Health Areas, which are sub-districts of Interior Health, have also seen increases as shown on the latest maps found on the BC Centre for Disease Control website. As of November 16, the Nelson LHA (which includes the lower Slocan Valley) was showing 12 cases since the start of the pandemic, while the Castlegar and Trail LHAs were reporting 10 each. The Kootenay Lake LHA, which includes Kaslo and Area D, has had one case, and there have been two cases in the Arrow Lakes LHA, which includes Nakusp, New Denver, Silverton, Burton, Fauquier, Edgewood and Trout Lake.

“This is an important reminder that COVID-19 is circulating in many areas of Interior Health, not just our larger urban centres,” says IH. “Everyone in the Kootenay Boundary area in all communities should remain vigilant.”

Restrictions are growing tighter in areas of the province harder-hit by the virus. However, Interior Health officials are calling for the support of residents “to avoid stringent measures in the Interior region.”

Residents can keep their bubble limited to their household and up to six close friends, avoid travel and adhere to physical distancing.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice