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COVID-19 Update: Eight new cases in IH over weekend

COVID-19 Update: Eight new cases in IH over weekend

With an ongoing pandemic and smoky skies sticking around it was a less-than-ideal weekend for many British Columbians.

The province announced 317 new test-positive cases spanning from Friday, Sept. 11 to Monday Sept. 14. — eight of which are in the Interior Health region,

“I think that between the changes we’ve made in our lives for COVID-19 and the smoke of the U.S. fires many of us may have thought ‘can we get a break here?'” said Adrian Dix, B.C.’s Minister of Health during Monday’s COVID-19 provincial update. “It was that kind of weekend, a weekend where more still was asked of us.”

More testing and more contact tracing are expected as B.C. heads into the fall influenza season. The province conducted more than 17,000 tests over the weekend yielding the 317 positive results.

There are 1,594 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 3,047 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.

There are 17 active COVID-19 cases on isolation in the Interior Health region, with no hospitalizations.

Across the province, 5,446 people who tested positive have recovered. In B.C. there are 58 individuals are hospitalized, 16 of whom are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or critical care. There have been six new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 219 deaths in British Columbia, including the first death related to COVID-19 in the Northern Health region.

Back to school and back to basics

With many students heading back to school last week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said schools may have to adjust some of their COVID-19 tactics in the face of wildfire smoke blowing north from the U.S. covering much of the province.

“We have been through this before and we know that it’s a broad swath of the province that’s being affected and for many people the school is actually a safer environment than many homes,” Henry said. “It is perfectly safe to be in the school, but we don’t want the windows open we want to reduce the amount of smoke that’s coming in and that is something different that what we’ve been saying where we want to increase ventilation if windows are available and people being outside to reduce the risk of COVID.”

The smoky skies may create some symptoms similar to COVID-19, Henry said, and particularly in younger, healthy people the symptoms of COVID-19 can appear mild.

“You may think it’s seasonal allergies a mild cold or now perhaps irritation from the wildfire smoke,” Henry said. “But if you have concerns or doubts stay away from others, get a test.”

She noted symptoms like dry coughs, runny eyes and irritation can be associated with both COVID-19 and poor air quality. Symptoms not likely to be caused by wildfire smoke include fever, chills, aches and a productive cough.

“We have seen wildfire smoke before, it has been a couple of us, but some of us, many of us, know how we usually react to this smoke. So if it is your usual symptoms from smoke you can make sure that you take the actions you need to protect yourself,” Henry said

With the wildfire smoke expected to stick around the South Okanagan and much of B.C. at least into the mid-week, Interior Health (IH) is recommending staying indoors as much as possible, and keeping windows closed, as well as limiting or eliminating outdoor exercise until the air clears.

“If wildfire smoke is triggering mild symptoms individuals should take medications as prescribed and use a rescue inhaler if one has been prescribed. You should not take more medication, or take it more often than prescribed,” reads a statement from IH.

Interior Health is also advising schools to ensure students are situated appropriately apart and classroom windows remain closed and encouraging students to wear closely fitted masks.

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