Cases of COVID-19 are creeping up in the Alberni-Clayoquot health region, mainly from close contact in households and social events, says Island Health (GRAPHIC COURTESY BCCDC.CA)

Cases of COVID-19 are creeping up in the Alberni-Clayoquot health region, mainly from close contact in households and social events, says Island Health (GRAPHIC COURTESY BCCDC.CA)

Alberni-Clayoquot becoming COVID-19 hotspot on Vancouver Island

Cluster of cases at elementary school the latest for Island school districts

The Alberni-Clayoquot health region is a COVID-19 hot spot on Vancouver Island right now, with 55 cases reported for Sept. 12-18.

Only Cowichan Valley South (with 84 cases) and Greater Victoria (200) local health areas (LHA) showed more cases for the same week, as reported by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in its weekly case count.

The Alberni-Clayoquot numbers now include a cluster of cases identified at EJ Dunn School in Port Alberni. Exposure dates include Sept. 15, 16, 17, 20 and 21. The outbreak is listed on Island Health’s “COVID-19 in Schools” page.

Island Health defines a cluster as two or more confirmed cases within a 14-day period, with evidence of transmission occurring within the school and no other likely source of exposure.

An outbreak is defined as multiple confirmed cases within a 14-day period, with evidence of ongoing transmission occurring within the school. Additional measures may be taken to prevent further transmission in the case of an outbreak. Public Health works with school staff to identify anyone who may have been exposed. If a student or student’s family has not been contacted by Public Health and asked to self-isolate then students may continue to attend school as long as they are not showing symptoms. More information is available at islandhealth.ca.

Other cases reported in Alberni Valley schools since the school year began include Tsuma-as Elementary (formerly AW Neill) on Sept. 20 and Alberni Elementary on Sept. 21.

Island Health would not speculate on where or how the latest cases in Alberni-Clayoquot were transmitted.

“COVID-19 is present in all communities and all community segments,” an Island Health spokesperson noted in an e-mail response to the AV News. “Transmission is mainly occurring in households and social settings.”

The spokesperson declined to confirm whether many of the newly reported cases were as a result of any large event that drew people together in the Alberni Valley recently. “Island Health’s Public Health team employs contact tracing processes to notify potentially close contact exposure to a confirmed case,” the spokesperson noted.

“Public notifications are only issued if there are high-risk contacts who cannot be identified.”

The majority of cases identified in Island Health continue to be unvaccinated individuals, the majority of which are age-eligible for vaccination, according to Island Health.

As of Sept. 23, 2021 Island Health had 660 active cases of COVID-19 on its books.

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RELATED: Port Alberni, west coast are COVID-19 hotspots on Vancouver Island

Alberni ValleyAlberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictCoronavirus