Nanaimo has become the hotspot for COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island, and the health authority is urging people to do what they can to stop the spread.
The central Island has been driving the Island’s COVID-19 cases all year, and data released Wednesday, Feb. 10, by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control shows the vast majority of cases are now coming from Greater Nanaimo.
For the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6, Nanaimo saw 93 cases, which Island Health noted is “nearly double” the 48 cases from the previous week.
“While some local health areas, like Cowichan Valley South, have seen their curve flatten and begin to bend down, greater Nanaimo is continuing a worrying trend with the total number of new cases increasing for four consecutive weeks,” the announcement noted.
Of the 11 school COVID-19 exposures the past two weeks on the Island, seven have been in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district.
Greater Victoria showed the Island’s second-highest tally of new COVID-19 cases last week with 26, with 22 in Cowichan Valley South and 14 on the Saanich Peninsula. (Case counts provided by Island Health and the BCCDC don’t match exactly due to differences in reporting dates.)
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Island Health issued a public service announcement addressing the central Island's COVID-19 case counts and urging people to "be aware of behaviours … that are driving COVID-19 activity in our communities."
(Island Health graphic) pic.twitter.com/6NnLmBdAEv
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) February 11, 2021
The health authority reassured the public that contact tracing investigations aren’t generally finding widespread community transmission, “meaning public health is generally able to identify where people acquired their infection and in the large majority of situations it is linked to known cases or clusters.” However, public health teams have noted an increase in the number of contacts being reported, suggesting “larger and more frequent social gatherings.”
Island Health says it’s imperative that people stick to household groups, and says even outdoor socializing can be unsafe if it’s done without masks and appropriate distancing. The health authority also warns against sharing items like vape pens, cigarettes, food and drink. Those who are symptomatic should stay home. Those who require a COVID-19 test can call 1-844-901-8442 between 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., seven days a week.
Of the 25 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island reported Wednesday, Feb. 10, 18 of the cases were on the central Island, six were on the south Island and one on the north Island. There are 230 active COVID-19 cases in Island Health, with 157 of those cases on the central Island. There are eight COVID-19 patients in intensive care on the Island and 21 others hospitalized.