Northern Health (NH) is assuring the public it has not declared any public exposure events or outbreaks in the NH region, including the Northern Interior Health Services Delivery Area, this week.
“Northern Health is aware of concerns expressed in some communities and on social media and are supportive of reminders to community members about the importance of self-monitoring for symptoms in general, and particularly if they feel they may have been in a setting where they may have been exposed to COVID-19,” NH Medical Health Officer Dr. Rakel Kling said in a Sept. 16 letter to stakeholders. “Anyone who develops symptoms should self-isolate and contact their primary care provider or the NH Online COVID Clinic and Info Line for assessment and testing.”
Kling says contact tracing is underway for all of the recent lab-confirmed cases in the north, and NH’s public health team is reaching out to close contacts, directly.
If you are identified as a close contact, you will be contacted directly by public health and supported in any actions you need to take, such as self-monitoring or self-isolation, he explains.
“It is important to note that a close contact is a person who has been in direct, face-to-face contact for prolonged periods of time with an infectious case,” said Kling.
“Individuals who have not had close interactions with, or who have been simply present in the same location as, a confirmed case do not need to take additional precautions beyond the public health advice and guidance for all British Columbians for the prevention of COVID-19.”
Kling notes a public exposure alert would be issued “when public health officials are unable to ensure they can identify and directly contact everybody who may have been exposed to a potentially infectious case of COVID-19 in a public setting.”
In his letter, Kling asks people who have symptoms to call the NH COVID-19 Online Clinic at 1-844-645-7811 for an assessment and testing.
Kling’s letter comes five days after Nus Wadeezulh Community School near Fort St. James was closed Friday, Sept. 11 as a precautionary measure after several positive cases of COVID-19 in Fort St. James.
Potential exposure events include a headstone raising at Beaver Lake on Aug. 30 and a wedding in Nak’azdli on Sept. 5, according to the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council. Nus Wadeezulh Community School principal Raymond Mba said preliminary investigation indicated no staff member of the school attended these events, but the school was closed as a precautionary measure.
Provincially, a record-breaking 165 new cases in a 24-hour period were announced Thursday, Sept. 17, bringing the B.C. total to 1,705 active cases.
The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control reports that as of Sept. 17, there are 241 cases in the Northern Health region, of which 33 are active. Seven people are currently hospitalized, with six currently admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. There has been one death due to COVID-19 in the region.