Tests

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. 

At least four different organizations in Penticton and Summerland have announced COVID-19 cases since Friday, in stride with a rising count across B.C. and dozens of new deaths.

The largest apparent outbreak in the South Okanagan is associated with the Penticton Curling Club, which was temporarily closed last week as a result of four members testing positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to manager Chris Jones.

All four affected members are seniors, and “the ones I’ve talked to are feeling better,” Jones said in an interview Monday.

“How it arose? We don’t know.”

Jones is also unsure how long the club will be closed: “We’re giving it a bit of time to see if there’s more cases that pop up.”

A similar waiting game is underway for the Penticton Vees, all of the players from which were placed under a 14-day quarantine order on Friday after someone among them tested positive for the virus.

“All other billets, team personnel and staff that have been in contact with the player will be tested as soon as possible. The (Office of the Provincial Health Officer) will dictate any further measures they may feel are necessary, based on the results of those additional tests,” the Vees said in a statement issued through the BCHL, which is tentatively set to begin its regular season Dec. 8.

“For privacy reasons, we will have no further comment at this time. The league and the team will provide an update on the situation in the coming days.”

School District 67 is also citing privacy reasons in its decision to provide minimal details about someone among the Giant’s Head Elementary School “community” testing positive for the virus.

A letter sent to parents Sunday night doesn’t clarify the person’s connection to the school, but states Interior Health has identified potential exposure dates from Nov. 23-26.

“Interior Health is continuing to monitor the situation and will implement additional public health measures as needed, including contacting those members of the school community that must self-isolate,” SD 67 superintendent Todd Manuel said in an email Monday.

“We continue to partner with Interior Health to follow their direction and are thankful for their leadership and communication. This is the first case of a school community member testing positive in SD 67,” he continued.

“The safety and well-being of our students, families and staff remains our highest priority. Our schools will continue to implement the strict protocols and procedures we have in place so that children can continue to attend school as safely as possible.”

Finally, the District of Summerland announced Monday one of its employees was in self-isolation at home after testing positive for COVID-19.

The person’s job duties “do not require interaction with the public,” Karen Needham, the district’s acting chief administrative officer, said in a public statement.

 “A total of four other staff who were deemed ‘close contacts’ are self-isolating and, as they have not been at work, pose no risk of transmission in the workplace,” she added.

“While Interior Health has indicated there is no public exposure, and the district acted swiftly and appropriately, we feel that by sharing this experience with our community, we can double our efforts to help reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”

B.C. needs all the help it can get.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported Monday there had been 2,077 new cases – including 277 patients in Fraser Health that were missed previously – along with 46 deaths since her last update Friday.

All of the new deaths were in the Lower Mainland, and Henry said 80% of the deceased were residents of long-term care homes. The virus has now claimed at least 441 lives in B.C.

Monday’s numbers included 212 new cases in the Interior Health region, lifting the total confirmed cases in this part of the province to 1,750. The death toll remains at three.

As a whole, B.C. has recorded a total of 33,238 cases since the pandemic began in the spring. There were 316 people in hospital Monday, including 75 in intensive care

And as of Oct. 31 – the most recent date for which statistics are publicly available from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control – there had been 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Penticton local health area, nine in Summerland, and 12 in Oliver, Osoyoos and surrounding communities. Fresh data from November is due out this Thursday.