Kelowna’s year in review – January 2020

A look back at January’s biggest stories

B.C. reports its first case of the novel coronavirus in Vancouver

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the province’s first case of the novel coronavirus on Jan. 28, 2020.

The patient, a man in his 40s, regularly visited China. He recently came back to B.C. from Wuhan, where the virus was first identified. Upon his return to Vancouver, officials said the man reported symptoms of the virus and immediately self-isolated at home.

Henry advised people to get their information from the BC Centre for Disease Control and not from social media.

Henry worked on the 2003 SARS epidemic, as well as on containing the ebola virus in Africa, and has said that the coronavirus is not transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces but instead through direct contact.

“As long as you clean your hands before you touch your face or your mouth, you’re not going to get that virus in your body,” Henry said.


Coronavirus outbreak sparks surgical mask demand


After the novel coronavirus – now known as COVID-19 – first landed in B.C., surgical masks started flying off the shelves of a Kelowna medical supply shop.

Laurie Robinson, assistant manager of Cooper Medical Supplies, said everyone felt panicked by the news.

“People are just overreacting,” said Robinson. “It’s like SARS 2.0.”

Robinson said the store immediately ordered more surgical masks but they went to Kelowna General Hospital first before the store’s shelves.

She added that masks alone will not prevent people from contracting the respiratory virus.

“It’s washing your hands; it’s covering your nose and mouth; staying away from people who are sick; you know, normal infection control stuff,” she said.


Kelowna rape survivor settles RCMP civil suit

Aden Withers playing a hand-drum while protesting the high number of sexual assaults deemed “unfounded” by the Kelowna RCMP on Nov. 23, 2019. (Michael Rodriguez -Capital News)

Aden Withers playing a hand-drum while protesting the high number of sexual assaults deemed “unfounded” by the Kelowna RCMP on Nov. 23, 2019. (Michael Rodriguez -Capital News)

After a legal battle with law enforcement, sexual assault survivor Aden Withers settled her civil suit against the Kelowna RCMP.

Withers was 17 years old when she reported a sexual assault to the Kelowna RCMP. She alleged being subjected to brutal and victimizing questioning.

She filed her civil lawsuit against the detachment and the interrogating officer Cpl. Kenneth Hall in June 2019.

The two parties reached a settlement Jan. 27, 2020.

“I’m feeling relieved and tired,” Withers said. “It’s over and done with, thank goodness.”

After a Statistics Canada report revealed that Kelowna RCMP classified almost 40 per cent of sexual reports as unfounded in 2018, survivors and allies started organizing demonstrations outside the detachment to bring awareness not just to the “unfounded” cases, but also to rape culture and its harmful effects on victims.

While the experience was draining for Withers, she encourages other rape survivors to come forward and share their stories.

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
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Year in Review