British Columbia

No new COVID-19 cases reported in B.C. Interior since end of May

The Interior Health region, which covers the Thompson Cariboo, east to the Alberta border and south to the Canada-U.S. border, has recorded no new cases of COVID-19 since May 27.

Interior region has no active cases of COVID-19

Dr. Sue Pollock, interim chief medical health officer with Interior Health, says increased capacity for COVID-19 testing in the region can be partially to thank for low case counts in B.C.'s Interior. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The Interior Health region, which covers the Thompson Cariboo, east to the Alberta border and south to the Canada-U.S. border, has recorded no new cases of COVID-19 since May 27, and currently has no active cases, according to the health authority's interim chief medical health officer. 

The number of confirmed cases remains at 195 for the region, which has an estimated population of about 800,000 people. 

"That's a very positive trend for us across the Interior," Dr. Sue Pollock said.

Pollock said this is largely due to increased testing capacity in the region. Interior Health has completed more than 23,000 COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began. 

Additionally, there has been little community transmission in the Interior, meaning most cases that have occurred have been traced back to travel. 

Given the low case counts, Pollock is hopeful the province will move into Phase 3 of the B.C. restart plan, which would allow for non-essential travel throughout the province. 

"I think where we're actually finding and have found quite a balanced way forward," she said. 

During a COVID-19 briefing for the province on Monday, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that while travel within the province will likely be allowed this summer, travel plans will be different that years past. She advised British Columbians to check with local tourism operators and chambers of commerce before travelling to certain regions, and to take necessary food and equipment when travelling.

Rules around social gatherings and physical distancing will remain in place. 

Pollock is concerned that individuals will become complacent as restrictions are lifted, forgetting to limit social interactions and maintain physical distancing. 

"It only takes one individual at one gathering to spread this virus and it can be spread to many other people or within a household," she said. "And then we really have to clamp down again and start to ensure that we are breaking those chains of transmission."

Preparing for a second wave

Even with the low case count in the Interior, the health authority is continuing to prepare for the possibility of a second wave of the virus later this year. 

"I am anticipating we'll see a second wave in the fall," she said. 

"We're just ensuring that we have the capacity to identify any new cases through testing, so we do have a good robust testing strategy and infrastructure in place and then we have the resources to follow up on all of their contacts which enables us to then quickly isolate and quarantine any individuals."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops and Daybreak South