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Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

As more people get vaccinated, daily COVID-19 case counts have been falling across the province.

But comparatively, that decline has been slower in the B.C. Interior.

On Thursday (June 17), health officials noted 120 new cases provincewide, 43 of them — almost 36 per cent — coming from Interior Health.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are certain communities in the region where transmission is higher, “particularly in areas where immunization rates aren’t that high yet.”

“The Central Okanagan has been a bit of a hotspot for a while, in different communities in that area,” she said during a Thursday update.

BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) data show the Central Okanagan had 100 cases between June 6 and 12, one of only two local health areas in the province to hit triple digits in that time frame, the other being Surrey at 172. Currently, 68 per cent of people aged 12 and up in the Central Okanagan have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, below the 75 per cent provincial average.

Only a handful of areas in Interior Health sit above that average — Revelstoke (79 per cent), Golden (77 per cent) and Windermere (76 per cent). The rest sit at or below the provincial rate.

Henry noted complacency is an issue, especially in communities that haven’t had a lot of cases.

“They haven’t been exposed to how challenging and terrifying and horrible this virus can be if it gets into a community and makes people really sick,” she said.

Enderby, Creston and Kettle Valley all saw fewer than 100 cases between the beginning of the pandemic and the end of May 2021, according to the BCCDC, and are now home to the Interior’s lowest vaccination rates — all below 60 per cent. The three communities are also among the lowest vaccination rates in the province.

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READ MORE: B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

READ MORE: mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

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