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Despite early closure, Whistler a COVID-19 hot spot for P.1 variant

Last Updated Apr 7, 2021 at 1:25 pm PDT

FILE -- The village of Whistler, B.C. is seen as the sun sets on the snow capped mountains Friday, Feb. 3, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

There were close to 200 cases of the P.1 variant reported in Whistler on Tuesday

Dr. Bonnie Henry says Whistler has had about three waves of COVID-19 since January

Whistler Blackcomb was forced to shut down in late March until at least April 19

WHISTLER (NEWS 1130) – Close to 200 cases of the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, have been linked to Whistler.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed on Tuesday that numerous efforts were made since January to try to contain COVID-19 clusters at the resort — which was allowed to stay open during Spring Break.

“Whistler has had about three increases — waves, if you will — since January where we’ve had quite a lot of transmission, and again in social connections and people who are living in group accommodation there,” she said, adding the resort had at least 197 cases of the P.1 variant.

“We think that this peaked about the week of March 22nd. Most of the cases have been identified, and through the good work of our public health teams around the province, and we’re stopping those chains of transmission,” Henry said.

Whistler Blackcomb was forced to shut down until at least April 19 as part of measures announced on March 29.

On Tuesday, Henry announced B.C. had recorded a total of 877 cases of the P.1 variant — with more than 22 per cent of cases linked to the popular ski resort.

It’s believed the mutation made its way there through visitors from other parts of Canada, she explained.

“But then it started to circulated in some of the chains of transmission in Whistler as well between workers, visitors, and from there spread to other parts of the province,” Henry said.

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Henry warned in late March that transmission related to travel to and from Whistler and other communities posed a real concern for spread. This is despite increased testing, contact tracing, vaccinations, and other measures taken by Vancouver Coastal and the community.

B.C. has recorded more than 3,700 confirmed variant cases to date.