British Columbia

B.C. health officials identify more sites of potential COVID-19 exposure in Kelowna

B.C. health officials have identified more locations in Kelowna where people may have been exposed to COVID-19 earlier this month.

4 businesses now on list of potential exposure locations after 8 people test positive

Registered Practical Nurse Marilyn DeMelo, with the William Osler Health System, administers a test for COVID-19 at a drive-through assessment centre in Toronto on April 14, 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Health officials have identified two more locations in Kelowna, B.C., where people may have been exposed to COVID-19 earlier this month.

On Sunday, Interior Health advised that anyone who visited the following businesses during the these time frames should monitor themselves and, if they develop any symptoms, get tested:

  • Cactus Club Cafe on Water Street, from July 3 to 6.
  • Pace Spin Studio on Harvey Avenue, on July 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9.

These locations are in addition to two others announced the previous day.

On Saturday, Interior Health asked anyone who attended gatherings at the following businesses to self-isolate and monitor themselves closely for symptoms:

  • Discovery Bay Resort on Sunset Drive from July 1 to 5.
  • Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge on Lakeshore Drive on July 1.

One of the owners of Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge, Darren Kalawarny, is concerned about the way information from Interior Health has been presented. He said his business was singled out, even though individuals could have been all over town.

"It's in the best interest of the public to make that announcement and alert people of the risk, because we want individuals who have symptoms to get tested so we can identify them," said Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema.

While these locations have been identified as areas in which people may have been exposed to COVID-19, Interior Health is asking anyone who attended events in Kelowna's downtown and waterfront areas between June 25 and July 6 to monitor themselves closely for symptoms.

Eight people have tested positive for coronavirus after attending private parties and visiting local bars and restaurants during that time, Interior Health said. 

Testing isn't needed for all: Interior Health

On Monday, Interior Health underscored its advice that people should get tested only if they develop symptoms, after its testing centres were inundated with people following reports of the positive cases.

The health authority says it recognizes the cases have created concern for residents, but it doesn't have the infrastructure to test everyone.

"Interior Health has capacity to test individuals who need it, but we are reminding everyone that testing is not required for those who do not have symptoms," the authority said in a statement.

It said anyone with symptoms should call ahead to book an appointment.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, loss of sense of taste or smell, runny nose, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea, headache, sore throat, vomiting and red eyes. 

Reminder to continue physical distancing, safety measures

Mema called the cluster of cases a "wake up call." 

"We need to continue to comply with the distancing measures and everybody doing their part," she said. 

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, who has been reminding British Columbians of the importance of physical distancing frequently since the pandemic began, said every case of COVID-19 is of great concern to him. 

"There's still a lot of responsibility we have to one another," he said.  

"Physical distancing is critical to stopping the transmission whether they're visitors in town or not. It's not just staying home in your spare time. It's ensuring physical distancing when physical distancing isn't possible, such as, say, going into a grocery store where you may not be able to maintain physical distancing and then wear a mask."

He says it's worth remembering the basics: stay home when sick, wash hands regularly, cough into sleeves and not to touch your face with your hands.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran also said he is  concerned about the situation. 

"There was concern when we went to Phase 3 and started to open up our communities to visitors from the rest of the province and elsewhere that this could potentially happen," he said. 

"Hopefully this is only occasionally that things like this are going to happen, but we also recognize the need to balance the fact that this is a health issue but it's also having devastating impacts to our economy as well."

Basran said the city will continue with Phase 3 but this serves as a reminder that people still need to be cautious and the spread of COVID-19 remains a reality. 

"It is a concern and it is a reminder not only for our residents but for people visiting our community to please be responsible and take the proper precautions and listen to the advice of the medical health experts in your community or your province before you travel," he said.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly said that drop-in testing was available. In fact, testing is only available by booking an appointment in advance.
    Jul 20, 2020 10:14 AM PT

With files from Nicole Oud and Daybreak South

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