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

Christmas Lights
This nativity scene at the home of Paul Biro, organizer of the Summerland Drive-By Light Up, was just one of many parts of his elaborate display. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
VIDEO: Summerland holiday lights on display

Drive-by light-up on Nov. 27 showed some of the many festive season decorations

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

The video was used for (KGH Foundation - YouTube)
Okanagan filmmaker, poet win at L.A. Film Awards

Spoken word artist Shane Koyczan wrote and filmmaker David Nault produced the commercial

Okanagan College students Michael Ochoa and Tallin Gregoire, both members of the Okanagan Indian Band, raised the Okanagan Nation Alliance flag on July 16, 2019,  outside the Vernon campus. (Karissa Gall photo)
First Nations reconciliation personified at Okanagan College

President Jim Hamilton’s foresight has opened post-secondary education doors for Okanagan College’s Indigenous students

A Summerland municipal employee has tested positive for COVID-19. (Summerland Review file photo)
Summerland municipal employee tests positive for COVID-19

Employee now self-isolating and recovering at home

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Join Rob Dinwoodie and bandmates for a Cowboy Christmas, Dec. 11 and 12 at Vernon and District Performing Arts Center. Seating is cabaret style on the stage for an intimate concert. (Contributed)
North Okanagan cowboys go virtual for Christmas

Cowboy Christmas streamed Dec. 11-25

Vernon is getting in the Christmas spirit with many homes decorating with lights and extras. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)
Christmas lights tour mapped out by Vernon realtor

More than 20 of the community’s best lit houses make up annual tradition

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Salmon Arm RCMP say some patrons have been harassing local businesses over mask requirements. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Police urge respect after Salmon Arm businesses report being harassed over mask rules

Wearing of masks in businesses and public spaces is currently mandated by the province

Salmon Arm RCMP officers attended two public COVID-19 demonstrations held in Salmon Arm on Saturday, Nov. 28.  (File photo)
Organizer of Salmon Arm COVID-19 demonstration fined $2,000 by RCMP

Police said some participants weren’t aware of the public health order prohibiting gatherings

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Sunny the cat, who jumped out of the truck at the Revelstoke Landfill earlier this month, was quickly reunited with his owners. (Contributed)
Cat returns home with the help of two landfill workers

Sunny jumped out of the truck at the landfill in November

Most Read