83.2% of Whistler cases are young adults; main sources of transmission are household, social gatherings
VANCOUVER -- Health officials are warning the public of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Whistler, B.C., area that appears to be impacting young adults in particular.
Vancouver Coastal Health, the health authority that includes the resort municipality, said in a news release Tuesday that the vast majority of cases are in young people.
According to VCH, 83.2 per cent of cases have been in people between the ages of 20 and 39.
And there's been a recent increase in positive test results in the area, the authority said.
Last week, 218 new cases were identified in Whistler. That's about 20 per cent of all cases identified in the municipality since the start of the year.
Of the cases recorded in the first three months of 2021, 900 out of 1,120 people are considered fully recovered.
The health authority's latest update on the spread in Whistler included details about who appears to be getting sick.
"The reported cases continue to be among young adults who live and work in the Whistler community," VCH said.
While some have pointed out the increase in cases in this demographic may be because this is an age group that often works in public-facing jobs, and in Whistler, despite pleas from public health officers to stay local, there are tourists frequenting the area.
It may be the case for some, but Vancouver Coastal Health said in Whistler, "the most common location for transmission also continues to be in household settings and social gatherings."
That being said, some younger residents have been quick to voice that it's more complicated than just people breaking rules. Many in this age group live with roommates who also work public-facing jobs, so transmission through household settings could be as simple as one roommate catching COVID-19 at work, not realizing right away and spreading it to the others they live with.
Those people may in turn go to work and spread it to others, who also have roommates or live with family members, and so on.
The health authority urged those who are feeling sick to stay home, and to avoid social gatherings with people they don't live with.
VCH reminded residents of the area that public health orders are still in effect, and must be followed even by those who've already been vaccinated or already had COVID-19.
In the hope of slowing the spread in the area, the province announced Monday that the popular Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has been temporarily closed.
Officials said there had been a surge in transmission linked to people travelling in recent weeks, including trips to Whistler.
A combination of warming weather and March break meant even more people in the area this month.
As part of their announcement, health officials said there had been a "worrisome cluster" involving the P.1 variant of concern, which is often associated with Brazil.
The resort is expected to be closed until at least April 19.
The Whistler update comes a day after B.C.'s premier asked people in the 20- to 39-year-old age bracket not to "blow this for the rest of us."
John Horgan made the comment as the province announced new restrictions, including a temporary ban on indoor dining at restaurants and bars.
Health officials including the province's top doctor have said previously that infections among young people are increasing.
Last week, Dr. Bonnie Henry said the recent increase in cases among those under 40 is "concerning," and that variants known to be in the province can increase the severity of effects the age group feels.
These variants of concern are also thought to have higher transmissibility.