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Travel, exposure to known cases results in Northern Health’s largest spike since COVID-19 began

Dr. Bonnie Henry reported eight new cases in the region today (July 23)
Northern Health. (via Hanna Petersen, PrinceGeorgeMatters)

Before the latest COVID-19 update from Dr. Bonnie Henry, five was the highest number of newly-recorded cases in Northern Health in a 24-hour span.

That was on April 18.

Today (July 23), the Provincial Health Officer announced eight more positive cases, rising the region’s total to 77 and marking the biggest single-day surge since the virus landed in northern B.C. in March.

According to the health authority, travel and exposure to known cases are confirmed as contributors to the spike, though specifics on where or how many communities COVID-19 was newly-discovered were not disclosed.

Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins says those who have tested positive are currently self-isolating at home as contact-tracing work continues.

“Close contacts of confirmed cases would be informed by public health officials, and supported in any actions they should take, such as self-monitoring or self-isolating,” she tells PrinceGeorgeMatters.

“And, as always - regardless of where cases are, everyone should be practicing the public health guidance and advice for preventing spread of the virus.”

She adds none of the new cases are linked to recent outbreaks in Kelowna, however, Dr. Henry said earlier that people in every B.C. health region are self-isolating as a precaution.

The BC Centre for Disease Control says, as of today, Northern Health has now tested 3.4 per cent of its population; that’s 9,710 out of 285,524 confirmed residents.

The eight new cases stem from 109 new tests in the last 24 hours.

At Site C, as of this publication, there’s still one confirmed COVID-19 case, but this is not included in Northern Health’s numbers as the worker travelled from Alberta after testing positive in the neighbouring province.

The number of isolated workers at the Fort St. John project is also down to 10 after 15 were originally quarantined.

Though unconfirmed by Dr. Henry, the Haida Nation also issued an alert, warning there had been a confirmed case on Haida Gwaii this week.

On July 16, when Northern Health’s 37-day streak of zero COVID-19 cases ended with three new ones reported, Dr. Henry said they were in three different communities, two were related to travel and one was ‘out-of-province.’

“Important for everyone to know that individuals who are not close contacts (those who have not been in direct, face to face contact for prolonged periods with an infectious case) do not need to self-isolate, as the risk of infection is very low,” says Collins.

Dr. Henry reported 30 new COVID-19 cases today for a new provincial total of 3,392.

This includes 304 active cases, 16 hospitalized, three in intensive care and 2,989 recoveries, 67 of which are in the north.

She also announced one new death in B.C., bringing the toll to 190.

- with files from Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters, and Matt Preprost, Alaska Highway News