Testing underway at Big White Ski Resort after 'a few positive cases' of COVID-19
An image of Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Source: Big White Ski Resort
VANCOUVER -- Interior Health is carrying out a second day of testing at Big White Ski Resort following “a few positive cases” of COVID-19, and reports of partying on the mountain, according to the company’s senior vice-president.
Michael Ballingall told CTV News members of Interior Health were on the mountain Monday, offering tests to anyone who wanted one. This is after more than 60 people were tested on Friday.
“At some stage later in the week I’m going to assume that Interior Health will come back with us, and the community and the members of the chamber of commerce and they’ll tell us that we need to change our protocols in any way, or its business as usual,” Ballingall said.
In a statement, Interior Health confirmed it has detected cases of COVID-19 “related to transmission caused by social activity in homes and accommodations.”
“This includes the resort municipality of Big White where Interior Health is investigating community cases of COVID-19 and performing contact tracing,” the statement said, though no outbreak has been declared.
Ballingall said the ski resort employs just over 600 people, which is about 55 per cent of the total workforce on the mountain.
“We know that there are others that are residing on the mountain that live in private accommodation that have been gathering probably when they shouldn’t be gathering and we have been working with interior health to come up and test the community,” he said.
Ballingall said the positive cases have “scared” some of the young staff members.
“These young people have had a wake up call that yes, they can get it too, their friends might have gotten it and even if you don’t have it or haven’t tested positive, if you're in close contact and have been contacted by Interior Health through contract tracing, you have to isolate.”
He said some staff members have not shown up to work recently, possibly to isolate, but did not have exact numbers.
He believes the message may be getting through, saying there have been no calls to either the mountain security team or the RCMP about parties for the last three weeks.
“We know that the message has got out, there wouldn’t be a staff member on the mountain that doesn’t understand the urgency, the severity and the situation on how important it is to play by the protocol and the rules,” Ballingall said.