People walking on the promenade along Okanagan Lake in Downtown Kelowna on May 18, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

As COVID-19 cases linked to Kelowna top 70, those possibly exposed denied testing

Interior Health will only test those with symptoms, though the threshold is very low, says medical health officer Dr. Susan Pollock

Concerned Kelowna residents who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 are having a hard time getting tested.

This comes despite advice from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry telling those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to monitor themselves for symptoms, and if they’re concerned, to get tested — even if they’re not sure they have symptoms.

A number of Kelownians who were close to the city’s recent coronavirus exposures have reached out to the Kelowna Capital News claiming they were denied testing due to their lack of symptoms.

As of Tuesday, July 21, Interior Health has identified more than 70 test-positive cases of the virus related to the Kelowna exposures compared “over 60” the day previous. Six employees at Kelowna General Hospital also tested positive over the weekend, but no further cases among hospital staff have been reported

Dr. Susan Pollock, Interior Health’s interim chief medical health officer, said the authority’s directive is to test only those exhibiting symptoms and it’s on each individual who may have been exposed to closely monitor their symptoms.

“We know people with COVID-19 can have extremely mild symptoms,” Pollock told the Capital News on Tuesday. “In some cases, symptoms might be so mild that people just brush it off as a summer cold and not think too much of it. We’re asking people to be extra vigilant for any symptoms that they have and reminding people that if they have symptoms they should be staying home and they should seek a test.

“People should have a very low threshold for symptoms in terms of seeking a test.”

READ MORE: Over 60 cases of COVID-19 related to Kelowna cluster

READ MORE: Kelowna businesses close after recent COVID-19 concerns

Those who are at high-risk for exposure would be identified through contact tracing and contacted individually by Interior Health, Pollock said. At that time, those people would be assessed by healthcare professionals and given recommendations as to what they should do next.

“If they do not have symptoms and they think they’ve been exposed we’re recommending they monitor themselves very, very closely and if they have been in contact that they self-isolate as well,” she said.

Pollock confirmed that Interior Health is working with Dr. Henry, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran to address the evolving situation in Kelowna. While not revealing the full details of what they have planned, Pollock said much of the messaging pertains to private gatherings.

“We want to remind people that they should keep them to a very small size and ideally they are outdoor gatherings,” said Pollock.

She added people hosting gatherings should keep a list of names and phone numbers of those who attend to assist with contact tracing.

“Right now, it’s very important that we get that education out,” Pollock said.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said on Tuesday that adjustments are coming to public health advice and orders as a result of increases such as has been seen in Kelowna in recent days.

“We also have to acknowledge that there were unorganized circumstances that were involved in this outbreak in Kelowna, and we have to take responsibility for those. We have to work with the owners of certain businesses to improve the circumstances in those businesses.”

The Kelowna Capital News has reached out to Mayor Basran for comment but has not received a response.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

A map of the proposed location for the temporary workforce camp in Johnson Heights that is subject to a Temporary Use Permit from the city. (City of Revelstoke)
City council approves permit for worker camp in Johnson Heights

The permit was issued for two years in a close vote

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

Revelstoke Tim Hortons staff give a $3,139 cheque to Hannah Whitney and Jake Sloots (left side of cheque) from Community Connections. (Submitted)
Revelstoke Tim Hortons raises $3K for local food bank

The funds were do to the Smile Cookie campaign from Sept. 14 to 20

Revelstoke Mountain Resort has released additional details about upcoming winter operations. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Resort releases more details on upcoming operations

Opening day is scheduled for Nov. 27 in Revelstoke

The new traffic circle in Revelstoke will open Oct. 29. (Submitted/City of Revelstoke)
Roundabout to open Oct. 29

Ribbon cutting details to be released

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

A structure fire was reported in Eagle Rock Mobile Home Park in Armstrong Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Contributed)
UPDATE: Home destroyed in North Okanagan mobile home park fire

Large structure fire broke out at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers, staff by parents must stop: Chilliwack soccer club

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Nicole Bell, one of the women missing from the Shuswap, has been missing since Sept. 2, 2017. (Photo contributed)
Mother implores people to not forget daughter missing in Shuswap

The birthday of Nicole Bell, one of four women missing in region, is fast approaching

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Most Read