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COVID-19 cases at Big White 'stabilizing' says Interior Health

Last Updated Feb 6, 2021 at 1:35 pm PST

(Courtesy: Big White Ski Resort)

A major COVID-19 cluster at a ski resort near Kelowna appears to be close to ending

235 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are linked to the cluster at Big White but most have recovered

Meantime, concerns are growing about a spike in COVID-19 infections in Whistler

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — The major COVID-19 cluster at the Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna appears to be close to ending about two months after it was declared.

A total of 235 people who have tested positive for the virus have been linked to the cluster, declared in December — although only 20 are still currently sick.

Interior Health says its happy cases are “stabilizing,” but it cautions that the cluster is not over yet, adding most of the transmissions happened at social events and gatherings.

“We will continue to conduct testing on the mountain,” Dr. Silvina Mema, Interior Health medical health officer said in the news release Friday. “This cluster is not yet over, but we are confident the measures in place are working, and we will reduce our reporting to weekly on Fridays.”

It’s a different situation at Whistler, which has seen a spike in infections only in recent weeks.

A total of 547 cases were reported in the town from January 1 to February 2, 259 of which were recorded from January 28 to February 2, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

RELATED: As B.C. marks one year of COVID-19, Whistler has become one of the province’s latest hotspots

Just like Big White, most of the cases at Whistler are being blamed on social gatherings.

“The majority of cases continue to be identified in young people in their 20s and 30s who live, work and socialize together,” said a news release from Vancouver Coastal Health on Friday.

“To date, two of the cases have required brief hospitalization and no deaths have occurred. Almost all of the recent cases are associated with transmission occurring within households and social settings.”

This week, B.C.’s top Dr. Bonnie Henry said it’s still okay to go to Whistler as long as you aren’t spending the night. Henry said efforts are being made to help people with discounted passes who are nervous about violating her “stay local” directives.

“What I’m telling people is it’s okay to go outside to go skiing. It’s the ‘befores and the afters,’ the parties, and the getting together, and the social gathering — those have never been acceptable,” she said.

“That is where we’re seeing transmission happening in several communities.”

According to Vancouver Coastal Health “very little transmission has been linked to outdoor recreation areas such as Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.”