This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. on March 26 with more current information.
An unconfirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported at Kelowna General Hospital.
Kelowna Capital News is doing its due diligence and has reached out to Interior Health. The provincial health authority said out of respect for patients’ privacy, they can’t confirm individual cases, unless there is a pressing public health need to do so.
Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas said he received a report from a constituent whose aunt returned from international travel and became very ill.
I was recently contacted by a constituent whose Aunt returned from international travel and became very ill with what has now been diagnosed as #COVID_19 – While the Aunt is recovering my constituent remains concerned about the people her aunt may have exposed the virus to.
— Dan Albas (@DanAlbas) March 25, 2020
The concerned constituent lives in a local assisted living facility, which cannot currently be named due to the case remaining unconfirmed.
Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart has been in contact with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) since he was also notified by the constituent about the COVID-19 case.
“We get emotional and frightened when it’s so close to home,” said Stewart.
“The IHA and frontline workers, at the end of the day, are handling this very well. We need to have confidence in our system and everything that should have been done by the IHA during the start to the end has all been properly processed.”
Stewart also said that because the individual with unconfirmed COVID-19, lives alone and not in a shared living space, such as a care-home, the protocol around notifying surrounding areas differs.
“That’s not the practice,” he said.
“That’s not the control we need. I’m very confident that appropriate actions have been taken.”
While it won’t release numbers on a city-by-city basis, the IHA said you should assume COVID-19 is circulating in your community and act accordingly by following the advice of the provincial health officer.
Susan Duncan, a spokesperson for the authority, said with the stigma and nervousness associated with COVID-19, people need to feel safe knowing that their identities will be protected if they come forward and are diagnosed with the virus.
“When there is a positive case, the patient receives support from the health authority’s public health teams, but the community is not identified by the province to protect that patient’s identity and to further enable the protection of others by encouraging people to come forward if needed,” said Duncan.
“We will not be identifying the specific location of confirmed cases unless public health providers cannot be certain they have reached all those who need to be contacted and who, therefore, might be a risk to the public,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“We want people who have symptoms to contact us and to feel safe contacting us knowing their privacy will be protected so the steps to protect the health and safety for all can be taken. This is why privacy is important to everyone. It allows public health providers to do the work they need to do to keep everybody safe.”
As of March 26, regional totals are 359 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 241 in Fraser Health, 52 in Island Health, 62 in Interior Health and 11 in Northern Health. Outbreaks in nine B.C. long-term care homes continue to be worked on, and the death total remains at 13 province-wide.
Of the 725 cases, 66 people are in hospital, 26 of them in intensive care, and 186 people have recovered and been cleared by testing. That’s two additional hospitalizations since March 25.