Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Fernie area declared community COVID-19 cluster by Interior Health

81 cases have been identified since Jan. 1

Interior Health (IH) has declared a community cluster in the Fernie area as of Wednesday Jan. 27.

81 new cases have been identified in the local health area since January 1, while 63 are currently active.

“This week, contact tracing confirms new cases of COVID-19 where people are reporting higher numbers of close contacts which contributes to increased community spread and heightened concern,” said Dr. Albert De Villiers, Interior Health chief medical health officer.

“Declaring this cluster today allows us to continue working together in Fernie while strengthening our collective response.”

IH said that no single location or event is tied to the majority of cases, as they primarily appear to be associated with local social gatherings.

“These events are a significant concern and all residents are reminded to refrain from contact outside your immediate household and seek COVID-19 testing at the first sign of symptoms.”

IH reminded locals in the area to follow precautions, “and not stigmatize or judge others who seek testing or test positive for COVID-19.”

The Fernie local health area is defined as the region served by the Elk Valley Hospital (in Fernie), including all the Elk Valley and South Country.

Speaking with The Free Press, Fernie Mayor Ange Qualizza said the COVID-19 cases currently in Fernie and surrounding communities are the result of community transmission and not out-of-province travel.

“Interior Health has informed me that currently the data suggests our numbers are actually based on community transmission, and not inter provincial travel. I know this is not what people want to hear, but community transmission right now is our largest threat,” said Qualizza.

She said that while B.C. Premier John Horgan has ruled out restrictions on inter-provincial travel, “we need to start talking non-essential travel.

“The premier said he is prepared to impose stronger restrictions on non- essential travellers, right now there has been zero clarification on what those restrictions would look like, and more importantly how they would be enforced.”

Qualizza said that given the uptick in local cases, she had “no reason to expect anything other than another extention” to provincial health orders discouraging travel.

As mayor of a resort municipality popular with tourists from Alberta, Qualizza said she hoped the winter season was not a wash.

“We need to work as a community to get those numbers back down,” she said.

“The declaration of a community cluster allows Interior Health to report on community-specific numbers. Fernie Local Health Authority numbers will be reported more frequently now until the cluster is deemed resolved.

“Cases locally are linked to a variety of social events and household transmission; we need everyone to reduce their potential of exposure by staying home and avoiding any unnecessary activities in the community.”

The next update from IH on the Fernie area cluster will be Friday, Jan. 29.

More to come…

READ MORE: Interior Health declares COVID-19 outbreak at Teck’s Elk Valley operations over



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusMunicipal Government

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

Most Read