People walking on the promenade along Okanagan Lake in Downtown Kelowna on May 18, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Okanagan COVID-19 numbers skyrocket after Kelowna exposures

Between July 10 and July 23, health officials identified COVID-19 in 107 Okanagan residents

The Okanagan has been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus in recent weeks.

And, data released on Thursday by the BC Centre for Disease Control proves it.

Between July 10 and July 23, health officials identified COVID-19 in 107 Okanagan residents — most of those diagnoses coming in the last week.

A graphic showing COVID-19 cases in B.C. by region between July 10 and July 23, 2020. (BC CDC photo)

The skyrocketing local numbers stem from private parties in the city in early July, in which people from the B.C. Interior, the Lower Mainland and Alberta all intermingled. Exposure alerts were put out by Interior Health for several local businesses that those people may have attended.

The Interior Health region went several weeks without a single hospitalization due to the virus. Now, two of the 16 hospitalizations province-wide are in the region.

The numbers also show Interior Health’s spike in numbers is almost entirely contained to the Okanagan, with just five cases identified in the rest of the region.

READ MORE: No mandatory masks, temperature checks for now: City of Kelowna

READ MORE: COVID-19: Rental guests to be limited, B.C.’s Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Across the province, 37 per cent of the cases identified over the past two weeks were people between the ages of 20 and 29.

“I will again stress that we need everyone — and particularly this age group of people in their 20s and 30s — to keep themselves and the people they love safe by maintaining a safe physical distance, washing hands frequently, staying home if they feel sick and wearing a mask in places where physical distancing isn’t always possible,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said on Thursday.

During a press conference on Tuesday, July 21, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said several influencers have started sharing COVID-19 best practices over the past few days, in an effort to quell exposures among younger people.

“I’m so proud, and you’ll see it on Instagram, the work of different people from all walks of life, from people involved in fitness to food to tourism to community activities who are posting on Instagram right now to get that message out,” Dix said.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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