Virus

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February shows the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

Parties held in Kelowna around Canada Day are now responsible for 130 people being infected with COVID-19, health officials say.

And the number is likely to continue to rise as the disease develops in those who've been exposed to the coronavirus but are not yet displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.

Previously, the number of cases attached to the so-called 'Kelowna cluster' was limited to those people whose infections were known to have been directly linked to specific downtown events and businesses in early July.

"We now know the situation has shifted into more broad community transmission beyond these initial cases in downtown Kelowna," reads a statement issued Thursday by Interior Health.

"This new reporting will more accurately reflect what is happening in the city and the region," the statement says.

Last week, Interior Health put the number of cases in the Kelowna cluster at 78.

The increase to 130 may seem dramatic, but health officials say the rise is not due to a rapid increase in new infections but to the change in the way previously-recorded cases are now being categorized.

"These are previously reported Interior Health cases being categorized differently," the IH statement says.

Going forward, however, the Kelowna cluster is likely to stand out for both its size and the fact that it is the only specific B.C. community for which an ongoing COVID-19 case count will be provided.

With the long weekend coming up, city officials are encouraging people not to make beaches too crowded.

"As a general rule, if you can't find a spot to put down your towel that is at least six feet away from others, the beach is too busy," city risk manager Lance Kayfish says.

"We ask that you simply be flexible in your weekend plans, try a different spot, or simply come back later when it's less busy," Kayfish said.