The COVID-19 testing site at the Vernon Urgent and Primary Care Centre has moved to the Vernon Health Centre at 1440-14th Ave. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

The COVID-19 testing site at the Vernon Urgent and Primary Care Centre has moved to the Vernon Health Centre at 1440-14th Ave. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Interior Health discourages non-essential travel following spike in COVID-19 cases

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry recently issued regional orders for Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health

Interior Health is discouraging non-essential travel following a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Due to higher rates of COVID-19 being detected, Interior Health stated Tuesday (Nov. 10), it is concerned by the upward trend and frequency of new clusters in the region.

IH is specifically discouraging unnecessary visits to the Lower Mainland, Alberta and other jurisdictions with surging cases but medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema said it’s best to avoid non-essential travel altogether — even within the B.C. Interior.

“There are towns within the interior region that do not have any COVID and we want to keep it like that,” she told the Capital News on Tuesday.

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, recently issued regional orders naming new restrictions for people living in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health areas. While these orders are not currently directed at the Interior Health region, IH states residents should be mindful of health protocols to avoid similar measures being taken in the Interior region.

Mema said she believes Interior residents are very aware that there is a risk of COVID-19, despite daily case-counts not being at the same level as they are in the Lower Mainland. This announcement, she said, is to “keep the momentum going.”

“We don’t want people to let go of the effort that they’ve been putting in,” she said. “The fact that the provincial orders don’t apply to IH is good news.”

READ MORE: Interior Health reports 53 additional cases of COVID-19

Kelowna school numbers not unexpected

COVID-19 cases in schools, health-care settings, and workplaces are disruptive but not unexpected, stated the health authority, adding these cases reflect increased COVID-19 activity in the community.

Kelowna has seen exposure events at 13 schools in the past few weeks. Despite this, the health authority said things are generally going well after three months back at school.

“With the exception of the one outbreak that was declared over last week (École de L’Anse-au-sable), transmission is not happening within the schools themselves thanks to the controlled environments and precautions are in place,” said IH spokesperson Karl Hardt.

“When a case is identified, we are working closely with schools to minimize any further spread through contact tracing and appropriate isolation and monitoring. This shows us the plan is working and the majority of students continue to get the education they need in a safe environment.”

The health authority is continuing to discourage birthday parties and sleepovers with classmates. While adults are largely adhering to requests to avoid parties, Hardt said it’s important for parents to know this pertains to children’s festivities as well.

“We know that birthday parties are important for our youth, but it’s important to find a different, safe way to celebrate this year that does not bring numbers of children together either in your home or at another location.

“This is another way to ensure our schools stay open and our children get the in-class education that is so important.”

IH further explained residents can play a role in preventing transmission in our communities by following this guidance:

  • Maintaining social connections are important for well-being. However, please keep your bubble small and limited to your household and a handful (up to six) close friends.
  • When planning your holiday gathering, please avoid travel and choose to celebrate with individuals in your bubble.
  • Physical distancing measures are especially challenging for young people. It is important they also keep their bubble small and, as much as possible, limit their interactions to a close group of friends from within their school cohort.
  • Essential workers, such as health-care workers and teachers, play a critical role in our communities and therefore it is imperative they also keep their bubble small.
  • Remember: The provincial health officer’s orders to household gatherings apply province-wide. This means no more than six people from outside your household bubble should gather in your home.

For more information about COVID-19 testing, click here.

Editor’s note: This story was updated shortly after its initial publication with comments from Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema and spokesperson Karl Hardt.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cases still running high in southwestern B.C.


Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
Follow me on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Robert Gibson, born November 24, 2020 is in BC Children’s Hospital. Photo contributed
Princeton baby fights for his life, with parents at his side

A Go Fund Me campaign has been started to help family with expenses

By this time next year, the BC Green Pharmadeuticals cannabis growing facility in Princeton is expected to employ at least 150 people, according to the owner. (File photo)
Princeton cannabis plant thriving despite lawsuit and bad press, says owner

Company expects to hire 30 more employees in the next two months

The five per cent proposed tax increase for Princeton homeowners amounts to about $30 a year, says Princeton CFO James Graham. (Contributed)
Proposed tax increase for 2021 amounts to $30 for the average household

A five per cent tax increase, proposed by Princeton council in the… Continue reading

grapes.
Morning Start: Grapes light on fire in the microwave

Your morning start for Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Brent Ross poses with his dog Jack who died over the weekend after asphyxiating on a ball. Ross hopes his experience serves as a cautionary tale to other dog owners. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm man warns others after dog dies from choking on a ball

Brent Ross grieving the sudden loss of Jack, a healthy, seven-year-old chocolate lab

This year’s Candlelight Vigil, United Against Violence Against Women, on Dec. 6, 2020 will not be in person at the campuses of Okanagan College due to COVID-19, but people will be able to gather online to watch a video presentation and light a candle in remembrance. (Image contributed)
Violence against women in North Okanagan-Shuswap to be remembered online

Participants in virtual vigil Dec. 6 asked to light a candle and post photo on social media

Mayor Colin Basran at the announcement of the 2021 Tim Horton’s Brier to be hosted in Kelowna on Nov. 21. (Contributed)
Tim Hortons Brier not coming to Kelowna

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Curling Canada to move to hub model, similar to the NHL playoffs

An Enderby restaurant and pub has been shut down since Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, 2020 as a precaution after a guest reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. (Howard Johnson photo)
Enderby pub shuts down after guest reportedly tests positive for COVID-19

The Howard Johnson hotel, restaurant and pub has been closed since Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29

Grapevine Optical was the victim of an early morning break and enter Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Crime Stoppers Okanagan / Facebook)
Collection of designer sunglasses stolen from South Okanagan eye-wear shop

Crime Stoppers is seeking the identity of two male suspects

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Most Read