COVID-19 Update: Mass gathering health order amended to address overcrowding at rentals properties

B.C. health authorities reported 81 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend.

The cases are spread out over a three day period, with 36 cases from Friday to Saturday, 21 cases from Saturday to Sunday, and 24 cases from Sunday to Monday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry amended the mass gathering health order Monday, after an uptick in cases over the last two weeks connected to multiple community exposure events in Kelowna during a group holiday. The order amendment limits the number of people at holiday rentals, including houses, boats, hotels, or any other holiday rental, to the designated capacity number plus five visitors.

“That means you cannot have a large group of people over to party in your hotel room or on your boat during this period of our COVID summer,” said Dr. Henry during Monday’s press conference. 

She noted it is the responsibility of the property or rental management to enforce this order.

The newly amended mass gatherings order comes after Dr. Henry amended regulations around restaurants and bars last week.

Dr. Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix did not give an update on the Kelowna exposure event or provide any additional details about the Krazy Cherry Farm outbreak in Oliver.

Dr. Henry did address concerns about testing capacity, especially in the Okanagan region where it was reported people had long wait times in order to be tested.

“Yes, there has been challenges particularly in the Interior where a large number of people were exposed at a number of events,” Dr. Henry replied. “And there was some equipment challenges over the past two weekends as well. That is being sorted out, and actually we are looking at enhancing, and over this weekend they were able to really drive up the testing of people who are at risk.”

Interior Health also issued a statement addressing rumours that flu shots will not be offered this fall, referring to the rumour as a miscommunication. Interior health said flu shots will be offered as usual, with the exception of walk-in clinics in order to reduce possible COVID-19 exposures.

“We agree that it is even more important for people to get immunized this year given the current COVID-19 pandemic,” said the written statement by Interior Health. “Our priority working with our partners is to ensure everyone who wants a flu shot this season will get it.”

The Okanagan is not the only area of the province to see a shape spike in cases over the last couple of weeks. Haida Gwaii is now up to 14 test-positive COVID-19 cases, while a new community outbreak was announced at a blueberry processing facility in the Fraser Heath region. 

Over 1,000 British Columbia’s are currently self-isolating after contact tracing determined they had been exposed to the virus. 

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