According to Interior Health, 81 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Fernie region since January 1st, with 63 of the cases currently active.

“This week, contact tracing confirms new cases of COVID-19 where people are reporting higher numbers of close contacts which contributes to increased community spread and heightened concern,” said Dr. Albert De Villiers, Chief Medical Health Officer of Interior Health. “Declaring this cluster today allows us to continue working together in Fernie while strengthening our collective response.”

Interior Health made the declaration on Wednesday and is now urging all residents to maintain their efforts to prevent community transmission.

IH said they declare clusters when “problematic COVID-19 transmission” is occurring amongst a community.

At this time, Interior Health said there is no single location or event tied to the majority of Fernie’s cases, although they believe the cases are primarily associated with local social gatherings.

“These events are a significant concern and all residents are reminded to refrain from contact outside your immediate household and seek COVID-19 testing at the first sign of symptoms,” said Interior Health.

Routine information on the community cluster will be provided every couple of days. The next scheduled update on the cluster will be Friday, January 29th.

“I would like to thank the dedicated physicians and staff in the region who are working hard to support their patients and stop the spread of COVID-19,” added Susan Brown, President and CEO of Interior Health. “We call on everyone in the community to focus on following all the public health measures that help keep ourselves and loved ones safe.”

Everyone in all communities, not just Fernie, are asked to take the following COVID-19 precautions by Interior Health:

  • Keep to your household bubbles and avoid social gatherings
  • Avoid all non-essential travel
    • Stick to your local ski hill and local activities
  • Stay home when you are sick and get tested if you have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • Practise physical distancing and use a mask if you cannot
  • Wash your hands often

Anyone needing a COVID-19 test in the Elk Valley can do so by phoning the COVID-19 Test Booking Line at 1-877-740-7747 or booking online with a COVID-19 Test Booking Form.

Testing is by appointment only through the Sparwood Health Centre. If you have one of the following symptoms, Interior Health is encouraging you get tested for COVID-19.

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
    • Either new onset or worsening/exacerbation of chronic cough
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Difficulty breathing

However, testing is also being recommended by Interior Health if you have two or more of the following general symptoms that may persist after 24 hours, and are not in any way related to other pre-existing conditions.

  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea