COVID-19 alert issued for northeast B.C. after Alberta prayer meeting attendees test positive

Northern Health has issued a public exposure alert for northeast B.C. after a dozen people in the region tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a faith-based event in Deadwood, Alta., about 430 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

According to the health authority, anyone who attended the It Is Time Canada prayer gathering between July 30 and Aug. 2 should self-isolate, self-monitor for symptoms of the disease and seek testing if they begin to exhibit symptoms.

In a statement, Northern Health warned it has identified 17 people with lab-confirmed cases related to the event — including 12 people who travelled to the event and and five people who were exposed afterwards due to close contact with an attendee.

Ten of those cases remain active and seven people have since recovered, said Eryn Collins, communications manager at Northern Health.

Collins says the majority of the cases are in the Fort St. John, B.C., area but the exposure alert applies to all of the province’s northeast. She said while it is not believed there is widespread community transmission, the health authority wanted people to be aware and vigilant.

Contact tracing underway

“The virus is still circulating and it’s really important that no one become complacent,” said Collins on CBC’s Daybreak North on Monday.

The health authority said contact tracing is ongoing and, where possible, staff are reaching out to individuals who may have been exposed.

So far, contact tracers have identified a number of additional close contacts, and 24 of those are currently in self-isolation with active daily monitoring.

People seeking a coronavirus test should call their primary care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner) or the Northern Health COVID-19 Online Clinic and Info Line at 1-844-645-7811.

As of Monday morning, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there have been 4,358 total COVID-19 cases in B.C. and 196 confirmed deaths.

To hear the complete interview with Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins on Daybreak North, tap here.

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