Canadian ski resort closed over giant cluster of Brazilian Covid variant cases

British Columbia sees largest outbreak of variant found outside Brazil

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Monday 12 April 2021 20:48

Variant first found in Brazil newest COVID-19 challenge in B.C.

A Canadian ski resort was forced to close down after a giant cluster of the Brazilian Covid-19 variant was discovered.

Authorities in British Columbia shuttered Whistler Blackcomb resort after 877 cases of the highly infectious P.1 variant were found in the province.

Nearly a quarter of those cases were linked to Whistler and at least 84 people who visited the resort tested positive without traveling outside of Canada.

Officials say it is not yet clear how the variant arrived at the ski resort north of Vancouver, but it is the largest outbreak outside Brazil itself.

Whistler Blackcomb, one of the country’s most famous resorts, was shut down by provincial officials on 29 March.

Experts say that the P.1 mutation appears to be more fatal among young people and has been seen to reinfect patients.

Whistler’s housing shortage for its young workforce is thought to be a major part of the problem in the spread of the virus.

“Because rent is so crazy, you have people living in closets and sometimes as many as eight people sharing a place,” Nora Reid, a 22-year-old hospitality worker told The Guardian.

“Most of us can’t do our jobs from home. We still have to go to work frontlines all the time to serve people,” she added.

“It’s really hard to isolate when most people have eight other people living with them.”

All adults who live and work in Whistler are now eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine because of increasing transmission in the resort.

Health bosses say that between 1 January and 5 April there were 1,505 confirmed cases of the virus in Whistler, which has seen three surges in 2021.

Whistler Blackcomb has decided not to re-open for the end of the ski season when the provincial health order is lifted on 19 April.

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