COVID-19 cases broken down by local health area for Dec. 13-19, 2020. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

COVID-19 cases broken down by local health area for Dec. 13-19, 2020. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C.’s COVID-19 infection hotspots reach into remote Interior, North

Isolated areas offer greater difficulty for public health

By the time B.C. public health officials started releasing more localized information on COVID-19 infections, people were familiar with hotspots like Surrey and Abbotsford in the Fraser Health region.

Add to that list Smithers, Burns Lake, Nechako, Fort Nelson in the north and in southern B.C., Kettle Valley. Those are the local health areas where average daily coronavirus case numbers are small, but among the highest as a share of population. And rural and remote locations mean greater difficulty in infection containment and contact tracing.

Presenting the latest epidemic modelling, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry cautioned that the localized case information is reported by where infected people live, and does not show where people picked up the SARS-Cov-2 virus while travelling.

“As the number of cases of COVID-19 have increased over the past number of weeks and months, we are now able to present data by local health area, and that is a more granular understanding of where cases have been,” Henry said Dec. 23. “I will remind people that this is our average daily rate per 100,000 population, and local health area represents the communities where people live who have tested positive for COVID-19. That is our convention across the country that we report by where people live.”

Most identified cases are from clusters or exposures to a known infected person, and industrial work sites and meat processing plants have been a particular issue in the second surge of the virus.

RELATED: Rapid-response paramedics sent to Fort St. James

VIDEO: First Nations elders urge caution in traditional language

Henry said the arrival starting next week of the more portable Moderna vaccine allows for targeted immunization in remote communities, where contact tracing has been most difficult.

“It comes in boxes of 1,200 doses, but we can break it down into as small as 100 doses and take that out to different parts of communities around the province,” Henry said. “So that means we can start to address some of the urgent needs that we have to protect people in some of our remote and isolated, particularly First Nations communities, and also residents of long-term care homes, where we know the virus is causing the most damage.”

The target for December to February vaccinations includes 25,000 people in remote and isolated Indigenous communities. They are not identified, but one of the first outbreaks that scrambled the province’s mobile response team was at Fort St. James in the Nechako health area.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Veteran Henry Kriwokon has his photo taken by the Western as he celebrates his 99th birthday with friends at the Cellar in Downtown Penticton. (Brennan Phillips - Penticton Western News)
Turning 101, Penticton veteran looks back on life

Henry Kriwokon was one of the soldiers in the famous ‘Wait for me, Daddy’ photo

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29 2020. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swan and eagle numbers

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

Most Read