Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health (Submitted photo).

COVID-19 picture ‘much clearer,’ says Interior Health president

As fall routines set in, IH CEO Susan Brown reminds public to be vigilant in preventative practices

Seven months after Interior Health recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus, IH president and CEO Susan Brown said the COVID-19 picture is “much clearer.”

“We are entering the next phase of the pandemic armed with increased knowledge and medical expertise about COVID-19,” Brown wrote in a Sept. 18 statement.

British Columbia marked its first case of COVID-19 Jan. 28, 2020, while Interior Health’s first case was recorded on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14). As of Wednesday, Sept. 23, the health region has had a total of 515 positive cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

“We have, tragically, had two deaths in the Interior Health region from COVID-19 and we know that no matter how low our numbers the impact is significant, especially for families who have lost loved ones,” Brown wrote.

“These losses are reasons enough for all of us to continue to follow the safety precautions every day.”

Interior Health managed the province’s first outbreak in a group of temporary foreign workers at an agricultural business in West Kelowna where a total of 23 people tested positive at Bylands Nurseries.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak at West Kelowna agricultural business declared over

“An illness at a South Okanagan farm was another example of excellent work as the spread was contained to the farm itself with only four people testing positive,” Brown wrote.

These infection control measures and use of contract tracing were utilized again when outbreaks were declared at two long-term care sites. Swift action resulted in only one positive test result from each site, Brown said. No residents became ill.

Outbreaks at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver were managed quickly resulting in low numbers. No inmates were made ill in the second outbreak declared over Sept. 10.

The first outbreak occurred April 2 making the high-security prison the first in British Columbia to have a confirmed outbreak. It was later declared over on April 20.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak at Okanagan Correctional Centre, involves 3 staff

Brown said IH’s contract tracers have worked tirelessly to get in touch with anyone exposed to the almost 500 people in the region that tested positive since February.

“The efforts of our medical health officers, epidemiologists, environmental health, communicable disease and public health staff — all working together — are how we were able to bend the curve back in Kelowna after the July long weekend when a cluster of cases grew from a series of parties,” Brown wrote.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s Canada Day ‘COVID-19 cluster’ declared over

The Kelowna cluster, linked to hotel parties involving individuals in their 20s and 30s, was declared over Aug. 31. Around 90 positive cases were associated with the Kelowna cluster.

Brown said she is proud of the IH team, but continued success relies on action taken by members of the public.

“Our success to date is not something health-care workers can do alone,” Brown wrote. “We need you. In fact, we are counting you to continue with valiant efforts you have all shown to date.”

Now, as the seasons change and students return to the classrooms, IH continues to watch that closely.

“Our public health teams are ready to jump into action to support the school community and our children,” Brown wrote, noting medical health officers are working closely with school districts.

IH has stepped up lab capacity, trained more individuals are are prepared to “ramp up” testing if necessary.

Brown said testing in some communities took longer than desired, but IH spent the summer months training more lab staff and stocking supplies to streamline testing processes.

“As we head into the fall, we are urging everyone to keep their bubbles small,” Brown wrote.

“I appeal to you to not be complacent and to continue to follow the safety precautions that we know works in stopping communicable diseases, including COVID-19,” Brown said. “Stay home when you’re sick, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands frequently and keep your bubbles small.”

“We can do this together,” she wrote. “Let’s renew and refocus our efforts to control this virus, to protect ourselves and loved ones from COVID-19.”

READ MORE: Person safely pulled from Vernon creek culvert

READ MORE: B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Snow started falling early Oct. 23, 2020 to leave Salmon Arm and area with a wintery look. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Snow in Shuswap this early in October rare but no records broken

Environment Canada predicts clear weather in Salmon Arm for election day – Oct. 24

City workers Mike Jamieson and Jamie Greencorn perform the wintery ritual of putting up road closed signs on 10th Avenue SE (also known as Shoemaker Hill) on the morning of Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm’s Shoemaker Hill closed by snow, might still reopen

City staff say steep, winding portion of 10th Avenue SE could see a few more weeks of use

Retired Sicamous United Church minister and author Juanita Austin will be signing her new book, Cup of Wine and a Piece of Bread, at Bookingham Palace in the Mall at Piccadilly on Saturday, Nov. 7. (Contributed)
Retired Shuswap United Church minister shares songs, stories of healing and hope

Juanita Austin to hold signing of her new book on Nov. 7 in Salmon Arm

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
Big White receives 21 cm of snow in 24 hours

Resort’s snow base 41 cm deep, one month until opening day

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read