Residents of the B.C. Interior are being urged not to travel to the Lower Mainland unless the trip is absolutely necessary.
An advisory against non-essential travel outside the region was issued by Interior Health as a way of trying to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
One-fifth of all COVID-19 cases in the Okanagan have been detected in just the past two weeks.
“Due to higher rates of COVID-19 being detected, Interior Health is concerned by the upward trend and frequency of new clusters in the region,” an IH release states.
“Interior Health urges against any non-essential travel. This means no unnecessary visits to the Lower Mainland or other jurisdictions with surging cases.”
Unless the upward trend in case counts can be modified, the Interior Health region could be subjected to the same kind of enhanced COVID-19 regulations now in effect in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.
“We need your support to avoid stringent measures in the Interior region,” the release says.
In the Lower Mainland, social gatherings in private homes are currently prohibited. No one beyond the immediate household is to attend another residence.
In the IH region, up to six people from outside a household are still permitted to visit a residence.
But the IH release stresses the importance of marking special occasions and holidays with only your family and up to the six others in your bubble, and keeping children’s bubbles as small as possible and limiting their interactions to only those students within their school cohort.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been 545 cases of COVID-19 in the Okanagan, 101 of which were detected between Oct. 23 and Nov. 5.
Case numbers have been soaring in the Lower Mainland for more than a month, with the vast majority of COVID-19 cases occurring there, disproportionate even to that region’s large share of the provincial population.
On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 525 more COVID-19 cases were detected provincewide in the preceding 24 hours. Of the new cases, 27 were in the region served by Interior Health.
Cases in the IH region are still below what would normally be expected if COVID-19 infections were distributed equally across the B.C. population; that number would be about 75.
However, case counts in IH have been steadily trending upward in recent weeks, from an average of about five a day in September and 20 in mid-October.