While outbreaks of COVID-19 have taken place around the globe, British Columbia has just confirmed it's first large community outbreak in one small area. The COVID-19 Outbreak in Kelowna took place in West Kelowna. The outbreak is allegedly among temporary foreign workers at a garden centre and the risk to the general public remains low.  

The Bylands Nurseries Ltd. in West Kelowna is the site of B.C.’s first large COVID-19 community outbreak

On the company's Facebook page, the company states that “an Interior Health Medical Health Officer (MHO) is investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 illness involving a group of Bylands Nurseries Ltd temporary foreign workers.”

The garden centre is separate from their nursery operation, although both businesses are located on the same site. 

The MHO from Interior Health has confirmed that the risk of exposure to the general public is low as none of the infected individuals were in roles that required them to interact with customers. 

The company has confirmed that they are working alongside the MHO to ensure all sanitation processes, operational practices, and employee housing situations are aligned with their recommendations. 

Interior Health has reported that on March 27, a health officer placed an order on Bylands Nurseries Ltd. that temporary foreign workers residing in the on-site housing remain in quarantine on the property until further direction is given. 

Altogether, 75 workers were associated with the outbreak, with 63 of them being temporary workers. The other 12 were local employees. 

KelownaNow has reported that COVID-19 tests have been done and so far, 14 have come back as positive.  

Interior Health has claimed the cases may be linked to a group of workers who arrived in Kelowna from outside of Canada on March 12.

Dr. Silvina Mema, a medical health officer with Interior Health, spoke with CBC News, stating that the workers are doing well so far. 

The garden centre is now closed to customers and the staff housing remains off-limits. 

“As a family-owned and operated business, we feel a strong connection to our community, staff, suppliers and customers we proudly serve and are working to ensure the health and safety of all those involved,” wrote Bylands Nurseries Ltd. 

“We thank you all for your support during this time which is very difficult for all members of the community.”

Despite the outbreak, the province's health minister stated on March 27, that they were “cautiously optimistic” about the province's COVID-19 forecast. 

As of now, the West Kelowna outbreak is being dealt with by health officials and the risk to the general public remains low. 

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