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

McGuire Lake will be on the route of a new Active Loop created around Salmon Arm’s downtown. (File photo)
You’re invited to try a new Active Loop around Salmon Arm’s downtown

Loop created by Downtown Salmon Arm covers about 4.5 kilometres and takes about an hour

Salmon Arm RCMP responded to three incidents involving women concerned for their own safety between June 13 and 17, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP respond to concerns about women being watched, followed

In one of three incidents a woman was invited into a vehicle but declined

A pair of Alberta residents were arrested after police responded to a report of a woman who had allegedly been assaulted and confined against her will on June 20, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP arrest 2 Albertans suspected in alleged assault, unlawful confinement

Firearm, stolen items seized including NHL hockey cards believed to be worth thousands

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District advises residents to check on regulations before installing or changing docks, buoys or swimming platforms. (CSRD image)
Stop before you install that dock, buoy or swim platform in a Shuswap lake

Columbia Shuswap Regional District advises residents to check first as regulations may apply

Gift from the Heart on June 26 offers no-cost dental hygiene to people who can’t otherwise afford it. First booked, first served. (File photo)
Day for no-cost dental hygiene treatment coming up in Salmon Arm

Smile People clinic takes part in Gift from the Heart, first booked, first served basis

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

A home on Cameo Drive sustained major damage due to an early morning fire Monday, June 21. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Fire sparked during Vernon home renovation

Heavy black smoke from Cameo Drive home, no one inside

Most Read