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

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

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Winlaw artist Lou Lynn is one of eight Canadians to win a Governor General's award this year. Photo: Janet Dwyer
Winlaw artist Lou Lynn wins Governor General’s award

Lynn is among eight artists honoured throughout Canada

Volunteers dedicate themselves year round supporting and helping to feed several hundred patrons at the Trail United Church food bank. Photo: Rylee Edwards
Poem praises Canada’s food banks

Garth Ukrainetz shares a piece he penned as a tribute to the Edmonton Food Bank

Castlegar’s Gabrielle Herle (right) will be one of the speakers at the conference. She is seen here with Wendy Gaskill from Chinook Scaffolding accepting their Contractor of the Year Award in 2019 from the Builders Code Champion Awards. Photo: Submitted
Girls in STEAM and Leadership Conference offered free for all girls in the Kootenay Boundary

Virtual conference for girls in grades 8 to 12 will be taking place on March 8

A vigil is seen here at ANKORS in Nelson during International Overdose Awareness Day in August 2020. Six people died of overdoses last year in the city. Photo: Tyler Harper
Six people died of overdoses in Nelson in 2020

Castlegar and Trail each had three deaths

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read