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Interior Health investigates COVID-19 cluster at Merritt Tim Hortons, 155 new cases in BC

Interior Health said the owner of the Tim Hortons in Merritt has voluntarily closed the restaurant.

In the daily COVID-19 media release Friday, Interior Health said the authority is investigating a cluster of cases of associated with the main Tim Hortons at 3340 River Ranch Road in Merritt.

Interior Health said as a result of the cluster, the owner has voluntarily closed the restaurant. Interior Health said it appreciates Tim Hortons efforts and co-operation in managing this situation.

“The business has appropriate precautions in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission to the public and our investigation has determined that there was no COVID-19 exposure to the general public,” Interior Health said.

“All confirmed cases are isolating and contact investigation is underway. There is no risk to the general public.”

Friday, Interior Health announced three (3) additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 590.

From Victoria, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, and Stephen Brown, deputy minister of health, announced there were 155 new cases, including nine epi-linked cases, for a total of 11,189 cases in British Columbia.

"There are 1,513 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 3,713 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 9,387 people who tested positive have recovered,” the BC provincial health daily briefing said.

"Currently, 72 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 26 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.”

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 4,036 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 5,884 in the Fraser Health region, 240 in the Island Health region, 590 in the Interior Health region, 350 in the Northern Health region and 89 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.

Dr. Bonnie Henrysaid there has been one new COVID-19 related death, for a total of 251 deaths in British Columbia.

In Interior Health there are 28 cases are active and on isolation and two people in hospital — no one is in ICU.

Three of the active cases are linked to outbreak declared at Fed-Ex office, Kelowna Airport area on October 14, with no exposure to the general public.

“Whenever a risk to general public is identified in such an investigation, (Interior Health) will proactively send out a notification and post it on its website,” Interior Health said.

“Public health is doing contact tracing and will follow up with anyone who may have been exposed.”

Interior Health said it will increase testing capacity in Merritt to address any possible additional demands.

“It is important to stress that testing is not required if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. People can take the self-assessment test on the BCCDC website, call 811, or contact the local testing centre at 250-378-3407 to find out if they need a test,” Interior Health said.

Interior Health said the risk of exposure from touching surfaces is also very low and there is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through food made by infected people. “COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets,” Interior Health said.

“There is a theoretical risk that a person infected with COVID-19 could spread the virus by sneezing on food or by directly touching food with their hands.”

Interior Health said there have been no cases reported of such transmission with COVID-19.