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Whistler Linked to Massive P1 COVID Variant Outbreak

The ski resort has become the epicenter for British Columbia's outbreak of the P1 variant. Cameron wears photo.

The arrival of spring usually marks longer days, sunnier weather, and all kinds of costumes and debauchery for ski resort communities. This year, however, Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is a drastically different scene. It’s a ghost town with deserted slopes and lifts and gondolas sitting silently. The resort was ordered closed this past March when provincial authorities discovered that the Brazilian P1 variant of the coronavirus was running rampant in the community. As a whole, British Columbia is experiencing the largest P1 outbreak outside of Brazil.

There is growing concern around the P1 variant since it is highly infectious, more fatal among young individuals, and can reinfect victims. Out of the 974 P1 infections in Canada, 200 are linked to Whistler. According to Vancouver Coastal Health, this is the third wave of COVID-19 infections to hit the resort town during the pandemic. Like previous waves, the infections are mostly occurring among adults 20 to 39 years of age.

However, authorities are still confused as to how the variant arrived in the resort community in the first place, especially considering that 84 of the original cases had never traveled outside of Canada. Hospitality, maintenance workers, and resort staff have been hardest hit by the virus, and many argue that the housing shortage hasn’t helped the spread. Most residents live in shared housing, and with multiple roommates, it’s harder to isolate the spread of the virus. For now, the Whistler community is trying its best to ride out this wave and curtail infections.

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