COVID cases in Interior, Central Okanagan, falling slower than BC

Central Ok. still a hot spot

While cases of COVID-19 have been steadily dropping across all of B.C. in recent weeks, that drop has been moving much slower in the Interior. And Dr. Bonnie Henry says many of the new cases are still coming from the Central Okanagan.

“It is not one thing, there are certain communities ... where rates are higher, but it's moving around,” she said Thursday.

“The Central Okanagan has been a bit of a hot spot for a while, in different communities in that area.”

She also noted there has been increased transmission in the Grand Forks area, where a cluster of cases led to transmission in a school.

On Thursday, 120 new cases of COVID-19 had been identified in B.C., 43 of which came from the Interior. With close to 36 per cent of the province's total cases, this was the highest proportion of B.C. cases the Interior has seen in close to a year.

Dr. Henry did not say why cases are dropping slower in the Interior compared to the rest of the province, but she noted the virus can still spread very rapidly, “particularly in communities where vaccination rates aren't that high yet.”

While close to 75 per cent of all British Columbians 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the most recent community-level data from earlier this week shows few areas in the Thompson-Okanagan are at the provincial average. Dr. Henry said she believes the vocal anti-vaccine crowd in the Okanagan are in the minority though.

“There's very few people that are absolutely against immunization, and sometimes they're very vocal,” she said.

She noted that the three issues they've found with vaccine hesitancy include a lack of confidence in the vaccine, complacency, and convenience.

“[We] need to make sure people have the information they need, that they understand safety profiles, how well it works; all of those things that people want to know to make sure that they're making the right choice for them and their family,” Dr. Henry said.

[Complacency] is certainly an issue where they have not had a whole lot of COVID-19, and they have't been exposed to how challenging and terrifying and horrible this virus can be if it gets into our community and makes people very sick.”

Those who've yet to register for their vaccine appointment can do so here.

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