Interior Health (IH) is ‘cautiously optimistic’ following a drop in COVID-19 case counts and testing numbers at Big White Ski Resort.
However IH attributed the drop in numbers to two possible causes: cases are dropping, or people simply aren’t getting tested.
Earlier today, the resort announced non-local individuals were not allowed to visit the resort during the holiday season.
On Friday, and Monday, IH tested 140 people in total. Yesterday (Dec. 17) IH was at the resort again and tested about 30. Another crew is on the mountain testing today (Dec. 18).
To date, 44 of the cases reside on Big White Mountain and 57 remain active.
Interior Health’s chief medical officer Dr. Silvina Mema said testing is voluntary. IH is not mandating testing.
In addition to those who have symptoms, IH has also been testing people who live with those who have tested positive for the virus, even if they are asymptomatic.
“The reason why the number of tests could be declining, is because there is maybe less individuals with symptoms, and that’s very good news. But the other reason is that people may be feeling… embarrassed to go to get tested,” said Dr. Mema in a media call on Friday (Dec. 18).
She said it’s important the public not judge those getting tested. She said it’s important people continue to be tested if they have symptoms.
“We don’t want to judge or stigmatize individuals who are getting tested. We want to support them… we want to find cases really early before they develop symptoms,” said Mema.
She said the lower number of positive cases, and lower number of tests could be an indicator that this cluster will be declared over soon.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we will begin to see, gradually less and less cases, and that we can declare this cluster over really soon,” said Mema.
IH says transmission at the resort was likely caused by overcrowding in private accommodation.
Overcrowding, the health authority explained, is defined as more than two people staying in one room. They are currently working with landlords to educate them and put a stop to overcrowding. They could not confirm how many landlords they have spoken to.
Asked if there have been any instances of staff going to work sick, and possibly transmitting COVID-19 to guests, IH insinuated it is unlikely. Mema said the resort has safety plans in place that would prevent transmission on the mountain, including masks and sanitization.
Overall, IH sees a willingness for people to cooperate, and therefore will not be implementing extremely stringent measures at this time.
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