The Delta variant now accounts for the vast majority of all recent COVID-19 infections in the interior of British Columbia.
In its weekly update, the BC Center for Disease Control reports that 89% of the 314 positive tests between July 18 and July 24 in the Interior Health Region were B.1.617.2, or variant Delta. The remaining 11 percent of cases were variant P.1 or Gamma.
This high proportion of the Delta variant is somewhat unique on the interior. During the same period, 61% of new cases province-wide were the Delta variant, with the Gamma variant accounting for 28% and the B.1.1.7 variant or Alpha entering at 10%. Variants of some sort now account for about 99 percent of all new cases in British Columbia
Vancouver Island is only treating new cases of the Delta variant, but that region saw just 30 new cases between July 18 and July 24.
The Delta variant was first discovered in India in late 2020, and it has become the most transmissible variant of the COVID-19 virus to date.
The proliferation of the Delta variant is one reason for the widespread transmission of the virus indoors in recent weeks, particularly in the central Okanagan.
Interior Health declared a region-wide COVID-19 epidemic on Wednesday and reinstated the mandate for indoor public masks in the central Okanagan only. More than half of the daily COVID-19 cases in British Columbia now regularly originate from the interior, although the region represents less than 15% of the province’s population.
The most recent geographic data from the BC CDC shows that the daily infection case rate in parts of Kelowna has skyrocketed to levels seen only in the worst-affected parts of Surrey during the peak of the third wave this spring .
Downtown Kelowna was the hardest hit, with an average daily infection rate of 40 cases per 100,000 between July 23 and July 29. That’s more than 100 new infections this week in downtown Kelowna alone.
The Glenmore area recorded a daily infection rate of 30 cases per 100,000 people, while Rutland had a daily rate of 21 per 100,000 people.
Due to the high concentration of new cases in the region, the BC CDC has started using a new color on its COVID case rate map to accurately show the high case rates in downtown Kelowna, Glenmore and Rutland. .
Case rates have also increased significantly over the past week in the Okanagan Mission, West Kelowna and Lake Country, reaching 19, 18 and 12 daily infections per 100,000 people, respectively.
Meanwhile, new cases have dropped across the Lower Mainland in the past month. While Surrey was once by far the most affected place in the province, with almost 2,000 weekly cases in April, the city now averages only one infection per day per 100,000 population.
Interior Health continues to push residents of the central Okanagan to get vaccinated, to help curb the spread of the virus.