COVID-19 cases detected at another ski resort in B.C.'s Interior

A doctor in B.C.'s Interior is warning that COVID-19 cases are on the rise at a ski resort northeast of Kamloops.

In a letter posted on the Sun Peaks Resort Municipality website Saturday, Dr. Shane Barclay writes that 15 of 40 coronavirus tests conducted at the resort on Friday came back positive. 

"I suspect there are more," Barclay writes.

The doctor says the people who tested positive are "from all areas of employment and business within Sun Peaks," and he advises anyone with any symptoms in the area to get tested as soon as possible.

The resort acknowledged a rise in cases in a statement on its website Friday, though it did not specify how many people had tested positive. 

"Within the past two days, we have seen positive COVID-19 tests within the community at Sun Peaks," Sun Peaks said in its statement. "This has involved staff members in various resort departments, including our food and beverage operation. The priority in these situations has always been, and continues to be the health and safety of resort staff, guests, and the local community."

So far, Interior Health has not declared a "cluster" of cases at Sun Peaks in the way that it did with when coronavirus cases started spreading at Big White Ski Resort in December.

The Big White cluster saw a total of 237 COVID-19 infections before the health authority declared it "contained" last month. Most of those who tested positive at Big White were employees of the resort, though nearly 40 per cent of cases were visitors. 

The congregate living arrangements often seen among staff at ski resorts in B.C. have been blamed for facilitating the spread of the virus.

On Sunday, Vancouver Coastal Health announced that residents of Whistler, B.C. would be moved to the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccination as the resort municipality struggles with the highest rate of coronavirus cases of any local health area in the province. 

For Sun Peaks residents, Barclay recommends avoiding any travel out of the municipality over the next week or two "unless absolutely necessary."

"Let's not spread this to everyone else," he writes. 

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