In just one week, the Hope Local Health area has seen a spike of 18 cases of COVID-19.
This spike accounts for cases recorded Jan. 10 to 16, roughly two weeks after New Year’s Eve. This spike is particularly significant after several weeks of having few to no positive COVID-19 results. In fact, the area has stayed relatively free of infection throughout the pandemic; there was a total of 33 cases throughout 2020.
According to the latest from Fraser Health, there are no outbreaks in the Hope area at this time. As of publication, there were two recent exposure events in the Hope area – at Coquihalla Elementary (Jan. 6, 7 and 11) and Seabird Island Community (Jan. 11). These exposures are no longer listed as of Wednesday, Jan. 28.
During a school board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, Fraser Cascade School District 78 superintendent Balan Moorthy said the exposure event involved an asymptomatic student who tested positive; the student’s parents had mild symptoms. The district was notified on Jan. 16.
This was the first elementary school case in the district since the pandemic began.
Moorthy said per Fraser Health guidelines, the district distributed letters instructing affected students and families to self-monitor; there was no cause to escalate to self-isolation in this case. He added transparency during every step has built a crucial level of trust between the community, health officials and the district.
“What [our effort] results in is a community that has less anxiety, and I think that’s part of why we’re seeing the kids coming to class in the numbers that they are,” Moorthy said.
When there is a positive case of COVID-19 in schools, Moorthy said he and assistant superintendent Renge Bailie meet with school staff to ensure calm and proper information distribution and to monitor attendance levels. More than 90 per cent of students at Coquihalla Elementary were coming back, according to Moorthy.
“I think, right now, what we’re learning to do as a society is to adapt to COVID,” Moorthy told the board. “Fortunately enough, in our community, we’ve had very few exposures.”
An exposure notification does not necessarily mean any given student has been exposed to COVID-19; those who are not asked to self-isolate by public health officials are still permitted to return to school.
Hope’s testing site is located at Fraser Canyon Hospital, 1275 7th Avenue.
The B.C. government has an online self-assessment tool for COVID-19 symptoms at bc.thrive.health. If you have questions about COVID-19 or other health-related issues, call 811.
– With files from Grace Kennedy