An infant in the St. Paul’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit has tested positive for COVID-19 but is showing no signs of illness, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Friday.
She said the maternity ward is unaffected and remains fully operational, “so infants and family can safely get the care they need.”
Meanwhile, Interior Health says that six employees at Kelowna General Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 in connection with a series of exposure events in the Okanagan City in early July.
Henry reported 28 new cases of COVID-19 across B.C. on Friday, but no new deaths. The number of new cases in B.C. continues to tick upwards, with the announcement of 21 new cases on Wednesday and then again on Thursday.
Friday also saw an increase in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. There are now 18 patients in hospital, including two in intensive care, up from 15 a day earlier.
As of Friday, B.C. has had 3,198 confirmed cases of the virus, including 207 that are still active.
A spokesperson for Providence Health, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, said the NICU has been shut down and the patients transferred to a temporary satellite unit.
St. Paul’s NICU provides 24-hour care for premature babies and other newborns with serious health problems who need specialized attention. It is separate from the hospital’s maternity unit, which remains open and ready to deliver babies, according to Hussain.
Kelowna outbreak major concern, Henry says
Interior Health said the positive cases in Kelowna General Hospital employees has not affected regular operations.
“We have no indication that any patients have been exposed to the disease,” the health authority said in a written statement.
Henry labelled the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Kelowna as “one of the more concerning issues to us.”
She said there have been 35 cases associated with community events in and around Kelowna related to Canada Day and other weekend events.
“Once you have been exposed, there is nothing that can prevent you from getting this disease,” Henry warned.
Henry said that many of the new Kelowna cases are people in their 20s and 30s, with transmission connected to those social events.
The severity of the illness she said is typically much lower for that age group, adding they may not recognize they are ill, despite being able to still spread the virus.
Meanwhile, the gatherings involved in these exposure events were relatively large, which has made it difficult for public health workers to trace everyone’s contacts and find potential routes of transmission.
“If you are hosting an event, you have an obligation to keep your gatherings small, know everyone who is attending and be able to reach them afterwards, if necessary,” Henry said.
“The best way to do that is to have a designated-contact-keeper. And if you are attending an event, make sure you give your contact information to the host when you arrive.”
‘Use your influence’
Henry urged people in younger age groups to use their voices on social media platforms and spread the word about socializing safely to protect each other.
“Use your influence to share a message with your friends and connections around the province: and that message is to make sure we don’t let COVID steal our summer,” said Henry.
Henry also said Vancouver Coastal Health has issued an alert for potential community exposure at the Sandman Suites Hotel on Davie Street between July 7 and July 16.
As a precaution, anyone who may have been exposed needs to closely monitor for symptoms and arrange for testing if any symptoms develop.
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