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UPDATED: IH declares COVID-19 outbreak at Teck mining operations near Elkford, community cluster at Big White

Interior Health said the outbreak has 27 confirmed cases and spans three sites operated by Teck Mining Ltd impacting Interior Health and out-of-province residents.

In a media release Wednesday, Interior Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak related to the Teck mining operations near Elkford.

Interior Health said the outbreak has 27 confirmed cases and spans three sites operated by Teck Mining Ltd impacting Interior Health and out-of-province residents.

  • Active Water Treatment facility construction project: 15 confirmed cases.
  • Fording River Operations: eight confirmed cases.
  • Elkview Mine Operations: four confirmed cases. 

The media release said cases have been identified with residences in multiple jurisdictions, including Interior Health, Vancouver Island Health, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

“Ten of the 27 cases reside within Interior Health and these cases are self-isolating with support from local public health,” Interior Health said.

“Interior Health has been working closely with Teck to monitor local operations and is confident the proper practices and procedures are in place for environmental cleaning, symptom screening and physical distancing to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.”

There is currently no indication of COVID-19 spread into the community, however, everyone in all communities should remain vigilant.

The news comes a day after Interior Health identified a COVID-19 cluster linked to Big White Mountain Ski resort outside Kelowna.

Interior Health said the investigation identified 60 cases of COVID-19 related to Big White; mostly from transmission related to shared housing,”.

Interior Health said all identified cases are required to self-isolate and public health continues to follow-up directly with their close contacts with guidance and support.

Interior Health reporting Big White COVID-19 community cluster

In a media release Tuesday, Interior Health said it has identified a COVID-19 cluster linked to Big White Mountain.

“Our investigation reveals 60 cases of COVID-19 related to Big White; mostly from transmission related to shared housing,” Interior Health said.

“All identified cases are required to self-isolate and public health continues to follow-up directly with their close contacts with guidance and support.”

Tuesday, the BC Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there was also a new community outbreak at the Teck Resources Elkview and Fording River operations in the East Kootenay.

Interior Health said large households and social gatherings appear to be responsible for much of the COVID-19 transmission related to this cluster.

Interior Health said this highlights the importance of limiting social activities and following COVID-19 protocols when indoors.

“Everyone in the Big White community are reminded to avoid social gatherings and that socialization must be limited to immediate household bubbles,” Interior Health said.

“Please follow public health guidance such as physical distancing and mask wearing, even during essential activities.

Interior Health is supporting the community with outreach testing throughout the Big White community.

Interior Health said the risk is low for families and individuals visiting Big White who stick to their immediate household bubble and avoid socializing and gathering with people outside their immediate bubble.

“We thank the community leadership at Big White for their ongoing support and collaboration, and we are confident with the safety plan in place by Big White Ski Resort Ltd,” Interior Health said.

Outdoor activities at Big White are considered safe for anyone following public health direction such as physical distancing, wearing a face covering, and staying home when sick.”

Interior Health will monitor this cluster for additional cases and environmental public health has been in the community to review safety plans at a number of locations and provide guidance and support as required. 

Interior Health would also like to remind people to limit all non-essential travel.  This means, sticking to your own communities and visiting your local ski hill only.

Everyone in all communities should remain vigilant in following COVID-19 precautions:

  • Keep to your household bubbles and avoid social gatherings.
  • Stay home when you are sick and get tested if you have any symptoms consistent with COVID (see below).
  • Practise physical distancing and use a mask if you cannot.
  • Wash your hands often.

Testing by appointment only is available locally. Testing is not recommended for individuals who do not have symptoms.

Booking a test:

Online: You can book an appointment online through the COVID-19 Test Booking Form: https://interiorhealthcovid.secureform.ca/index.php

By phone: Call the COVID-19 Test Booking Line at 1-877-740-7747 for assistance with booking your test.

Testing is available for people with cold, influenza, or COVID-19-like symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Body aches (muscles and joints aching)
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Other milder symptoms may include: runny nose, fatigue, sore throat, vomiting and red eyes.

Tuesday, Dr. Henry reported 522 new cases of COVID-19, including eight epi-linked cases, for a total of 43,463 cases in British Columbia.

Dr. Henry said there are 9,860 active cases of COVID-19 in the province with 361 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 93 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Tuesday, there was also 84 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 338 new cases in the Fraser Health region, seven in the Island Health region, 56 in the Interior Health region, 37 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

Dr. Henry said there have been 21 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 668 deaths in British Columbia.

Dr. Henry offered her condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.