Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)

Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

Interior Health has declared a COVID-19 community cluster in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region.

The designation allows IH to report COVID-19 numbers, something local leaders have been pushing for since Cariboo Memorial Hospital declared an outbreak Jan. 13.

Eleven front-line hospital workers have since tested positive for COVID-19 and there are multiple clusters in outlying areas in First Nations communities, who are starting to report deaths relating to the virus.

Since Jan. 1, a total of 215 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the region. Of these cases, 74 reside in nearby First Nations communities and 158 are currently active.

“As we have seen in recent years, this community has a history of coming together during challenging times in the face of adversity. Now is no different: we must stay focused and reduce the spread of this virus together by strictly following public health orders and direction,” said Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health. “I want to thank local First Nation chiefs, our healthcare staff and physicians, and community leaders for their dedication and hard work as we respond together to this increase in COVID-19 activity in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”

Of the 215 cases, most are related to COVID-19 transmission that occurred at recent social events and gatherings in Williams Lake, noted IH. The number excludes the community of 100 Mile House, Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars explained in a video update to his community members, telling them not to panic or become anxious with the news.

“This declaration is being done with transparency in mind and will allow Interior Health to provide area-specific COVID-19 numbers and updates to the Williams Lake community,” he said.

Everyone in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and across Interior Health are reminded that socialization must be limited to immediate household bubbles. Please do not invite friends or extended family to your residence for a visit or gathering.

It is important to follow public health guidance such as physical distancing, washing your hands regularly and wearing a mask.

IH will release regular updates on this community cluster on Tuesdays and Fridays and in addition, everyone is encouraged to monitor the BCCDC website for ongoing COVID-19 data.

Everyone in all communities should remain vigilant in following COVID-19 precautions:

Keep to your household bubbles and avoid social gatherings. Stay home when you are sick and get tested if you have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Practise physical distancing. Wear a mask. Wash your hands often.

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CoronavirusWilliams Lake