Island Health is asking people to take care not to spread COVID-19 over the Easter long weekend. (News Bulletin file photo)

Island Health is asking people to take care not to spread COVID-19 over the Easter long weekend. (News Bulletin file photo)

Island Health says indoor Easter gatherings an ‘unacceptable risk’

COVID variant cases have more than tripled on the Island in recent days

The long weekend has arrived and Island Health is asking people to take care not to spread COVID-19 over Easter.

The health authority issued a public service announcement Thursday afternoon warning that COVID-19 is “surging,” and urging people to avoid “high-risk activities that have pushed COVID-19 cases to an all-time high throughout our region.”

Island Health reported 60 new cases on Thursday, April 1, the highest number it’s reported for a one-day period during the pandemic. What’s more, the health authority says the number of presumptive cases involving COVID variants has “more than tripled in recent days.”

“These variants have shown to be more easily transmissible and can lead to more severe illness,” noted the public service announcement, adding that contact tracing has shown that the variants arrived on the Island following non-essential travel.

The health authority noted that the average age of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital has been dropping and is now at 56 years old for 2021, down from 69 years old in 2020. Last month, people in the 19-39-year-old age category represented 45 per cent of the Island’s new COVID cases.

READ ALSO: B.C. reports 832 new COVID cases and five deaths as third wave continues

Island Health asks that people avoid travel or indoor gatherings over the long weekend and follow the orders and guidelines put in place by the provincial health officer. The announcement said gathering indoors with people outside one’s immediate household presents “an unacceptable risk at this time.” Island Health says more than 60 per cent of its cases last month were linked to known clusters, and said the majority of those were linked to an indoor gathering.

“We acknowledge the global pandemic continues to be an extremely challenging experience for so many and people are understandably experiencing COVID fatigue,” the announcement noted. “However, with daily case counts at current levels and the growing prevalence of variants of concern on Vancouver Island, we cannot afford to let our guard down and undo the progress we have collectively made.”

The health authority said social connections over the long weekend can involve “the same 10 friends or family members” getting together for outdoor activities. The announcement concluded by suggesting “the end is in sight,” but it’s too early to let our guard down.

“Let’s all continue to do our part to protect our families, loved ones, friends and our communities,” the announcement noted. “Making exceptions and bending the rules gives the virus the edge and will make it that much harder to get to the brighter days ahead.”

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control released information Wednesday, March 31, about new COVID-19 cases by local health area. Greater Victoria was the Island’s hot spot for a second-straight week March 21-27 with 83 cases. Nanaimo was next with 71 and then Oceanside with 32 cases.

READ ALSO: All B.C. workers can now get time off for their COVID vaccine without repercussions

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editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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