Henry

Only one additional case of COVID-19 was reported across the Interior Health region between Wednesday and Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, shown in this file photo, announced Thursday.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, B.C. officials on Thursday will reveal the number of cases in a specific city.

That city is Kelowna.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will report the "number of cases occurring across Kelowna", according to a press release sent out after 5 p.m. Wednesday by Interior Health.

Messages between health officials included in the press release suggest the number of cases linked to a community exposure of COVID-19 in downtown Kelowna has risen to 126.

The most recent figure given by health authorities for people who caught COVID-19 because of parties in Kelowna around Canada Day was 78.

"We realize that the cluster has surpassed the downtown and therefore we are under-counting cases," reads part of an email written by Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema.

"The new case definition we propose will include cases who were anywhere in Kelowna, not just downtown. This change will add 50-plus cases to the Kelowna cluster," Mema writes.

Health officials say the revised total does not consist mainly of previously unreported cases, but rather ones that were assigned to the broader Interior Health region.

"This new reporting will more accurately reflect what is happening in the city and the region at this time," IH spokesman Karl Hardt says in the release.

"This will mean a significant increase in the cluster number we have been reporting to date. It is important to clarify that the vast majority of the additional cases reported (Thursday) will NOT be new cases," Hardt says. "These are cases that were already captured in the IH total cases, but were not officially assigned to the 'Kelowna cluster'."

Chris Shewchuk, another communications officer with the Ministry of Health, writes in an email that the new reporting method will give the fuller picture of the extent of COVID-19's spread in Kelowna.

"We do not want to unnecessarily alarm the public, but felt it was important to clearly show how COVID-19 is circulating throughout the region," Shewchuck writes.

Henry and Dix will elaborate on the COVID-19 situation in Kelowna during their Thursday afternoon press conference.

Unlike most provinces, B.C. has not been providing information on the number of people with COVID-19 in specific cities, instead releasing the data only by health region.