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The iconic Canadian skiing resort of Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia has been ordered to close by the provincial health officer, following a surge in confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the closure of North America’s largest ski resort at a press conference on Monday afternoon, following an outbreak of the P.1 (Brazilian) coronavirus variant of concern (VOC). The shutdown will be active as of midnight on Tuesday and Henry also confirmed that cases had been found in other communities linked to travel from the Whistler area.
The resort will stay closed until at least April 19th and people who have been in the area have been advised to monitor for symptoms of Covid-19 and get tested and stay home if they develop any signs that they may have Covid-19.
Previously, the ski resort was mostly open, with some mitigation measures in place, including advanced booking systems, Covid-19 safety protocols and distancing in bars and restaurants. However, cases in these premises have been identified throughout the winter ski season, although the resort has remained open until now. Forbes Health has contacted Vancouver Coastal Health for details about the current P.1 VOC outbreak.
Outside of the immediate Whistler area, British Columbia is currently experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases, as are several other regions in Canada, including the most populous provinces of Ontario and Québec. However, British Columbia is seeing much higher numbers of the P.1 VOC, with 270 cases identified as of Monday, up from just 140 on Wednesday last week.
All restaurants and bars in British Columbia will now be restricted to outdoor dining or takeout only, fitness classes and gyms will be closed, as well as suspension of indoor religious services.
“This variant is not only more transmissible to people, but has also been shown in some parts of the world to be less amenable to the vaccine,” said Henry at the press conference today.
The P.1 coronavirus variant is currently ravaging Brazil, with the healthcare system collapsing and the country experiencing record numbers of deaths from Covid-19, with 3,650 people recorded as dying from the disease on just one day – last Friday.