Several restaurants downtown have closed as COVID-19 cases explode around the Nelson. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control

Several restaurants downtown have closed as COVID-19 cases explode around the Nelson. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control

Unvaccinated young adults driving COVID-19 surge in Nelson: Interior Health

Over 50 per cent of new cases are among people ages 20 to 40

A medical health officer with Interior Health says unvaccinated young adults are mostly responsible for escalating COVID-19 cases in the Nelson area.

The Nelson local health area, which includes Salmo and parts of the Slocan Valley, is one of B.C.’s hotspots after recording 74 new cases between Aug. 1 to 7, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

Interior Health’s Dr. Karin Goodison said as of Thursday the Nelson area has had 187 cases since the province lifted mask and gathering restrictions on July 1.

Of those cases, over 50 per cent are infected people ages 20 to 40. Fully vaccinated people, she said, only account for six per cent of new cases during that time.

As of Aug. 10, only 50 per cent of people ages 18 to 49 in the Nelson area have had two vaccine doses, according to the BCCDC.

The predominant strain of new cases, Goodison added, is the contagious Delta variant, which provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has previously said is driving up numbers in the B.C. Interior.

“This is the time to wear your mask. This is the time to get immunized. This is the time to get your second dose,” said Goodison.

The impact of the cases is being felt throughout Nelson.

Downtown restaurants Kurama Sushi, Outer Clove, Loka and Sushi Wood each announced they were closed either due to positive cases or while waiting for test results, while others such as Railtown Coffee and Vienna Cafe reopened this week.

The Nelson International Mural Festival, which is set to open Friday and run through Sunday, said Thursday it was cancelling its patio events and moving in-person workshops online due to the rise in cases.

The City of Nelson meanwhile is once again requiring masks worn indoors at its buildings, which include City Hall, the Nelson Public Library, Capitol Theatre, Nelson Curling Club, Civic Centre and the Nelson and District Youth Centre.

Positive cases were also reported at camps held at the youth centre as well as the Nelson and District Community Complex on Aug. 5 and 6.

“We were hoping with opening in July that we were able to have people returning to do more activity,” said Goodison. “We really want people to think about the future.”

That means anyone travelling, going to parties or preparing for school in the fall needs two doses of vaccine and to be masking indoors, she said.

Goodison also said while there were new cases associated with the Shambhala Music Festival, which held three one-day events July 24, July 31 and Aug. 7, “it’s certainly not the disproportionate number that we would expect at any other social activity.”

Interior Health also confirmed Thursday that the person who died of COVID-19 at Nelson Jubilee Manor seniors care facility was a resident. Three staff members have also been infected, and the health authority considers an outbreak still active at the facility.

There were 3,834 active COVID-19 cases in B.C. as of Thursday, of which 2,199 are in Interior Health.

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@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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