Interior Health's top doctor says restaurants have not been a significant source of COVID-19 cases

Dr. Albert de Villiers said there has been a sporadic spread of the virus. Meanwhile, the number of people in hospital in Interior Health remains low, about half as many who were hospitalized in December and January.

Restaurants and other workplaces have not been a significant source of COVID-19 transmission in the Interior Health, according to the region’s chief medical health officer.

As to where the infections are occurring?

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“It’s kind of all over the place,” Dr. Albert de Villiers said, citing small clusters in households and backyard barbecues.

“We have not seen outbreaks in restaurants and places like that. Unlike the Lower Mainland, we haven’t seen big, workplace outbreaks, either.”

Since spread is so sporadic, de Villier said, there is a continued need to remain vigilant.

“Because you don’t know, if you invite your neighbour over, you don’t know who they’ve been exposed to or whether they’re actually carrying COVID currently.”

While Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in 2020 initially implemented restrictions regionally — in hardest-hit Fraser Health region when cases there spiked dramatically — she later rolled out provincewide measures, including the current ban on indoor dining, indoor fitness classes and indoor worshipping. That prohibition is in effect until at least April 19, but is expected to be extended through the Victoria Day long weekend in May.

Dr Villiers noted Interior Health is now averaging about half the number of hospitalizations as were seen in December and January. As of April 14, there were 22 people with COVID-19 in Interior Health hospitals, nine of whom were in intensive care. That number was at about 50 in the winter.

Interior Health hospitals have 1,007 acute-care beds, 55 intensive-care beds and 52 ventilators.

“It is definitely going better. I’m saying cautiously optimistic because we know we sometimes follow a few weeks after Fraser (Health numbers).”

While the numbers may rise, de Villier said the current situation means capacity is not an issue.

Karen Bloemink, Interior Health’s vice-president of pandemic response, said hospitals are “managing the demand we have on our plate.”

Due to vaccination, de Villiers said, the infection rate among the older population — 65 years and older — has decreased. But health-care professionals are seeing more cases, including COVID-19 variants of concern, among the younger demographic.

“Partly it’s because some of the older people have been vaccinated and the vaccine currently protects against the variant, as well,” de Villers said. “ So, we will over time see more young people getting infected.”

To find out when you can register for COVID-19 vaccination, click here.


Meanwhile, de Villier said there has been one new COVID-19 case at Sun Peaks, bringing the number of cases to 24. While there were 15 positive tests reported on April 9, the numbers have slowed considerably in the days since and no outbreak has been declared.

A mobile vaccination clinic will be in operation in the resort municipality from May 3 to May 7.

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