Efforts by B.C. First Nations to keep COVID-19 rates low are working, says health officials

Concerns of a surge in cases still remain

Dr. Shannon McDonald, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA photo)

Difficult and painful sacrifices have paid off by B.C. First Nations communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released Friday (June 26).

Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer for the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), revealed there are just three active cases of the disease within status First Nations people.

She said of the more than 5,500 tests completed from January 1 to June 14, 87 were positive and 42 of those were people living on or near reserve. Four of those who contracted the respiratory virus have died.

READ MORE: School teacher tests positive for COVID-19 as B.C. sees two new deaths, 20 cases

“Thanks to an extraordinary response from our First Nations communities, the people FNHA serves have fared even better than the rest of the population in the face of this unprecedented challenge.”

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the data from FNHA tells her the work by FNHA health directors, First Nations leaders and communities themselves to prepare for and manage the pandemic is working.

Success can be attributed to the choices of First Nations leaders who implemented strong public health measures including limiting or restricting unnecessary travel and cancelling or postponing large gatherings which are central to their culture and way of life, McDonald said.

Band offices were shuttered at many First Nations communities in some of which that also activated their Emergency Operations Centre and went into lockdown.

“The worst which many anticipated and feared did not happen,” McDonald said. “Transmission of the virus within and between our communities was kept to a very small number.”

READ MORE: B.C. reopening travel not sitting well with several First Nations

Despite the success, she acknowledged it is no time to lower our guard even as B.C. transitions and begins to reopen schools, business and travel.

Some First Nations leaders continue to express concern of having non-residents within their territories who could potentially expose their communities to the disease as travel restrictions begin to ease.

McDonald said each First Nation community is completing their own risk assessment and making choices about travellers and visitors entering their territory.

“My role is not to politically control communities but to respect their self determination,” she said.

“We continue to have conversations about how to best support the decisions that communities are making.”

The FNHA will be expanding COVID-19 testing to the most remote communities in the weeks ahead.

British ColumbiaCoronavirusFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

From the archives of the Haida Gwaii Observer

50 YEARS AGO (1970): Highways Minister Wesley Black visited the islands and… Continue reading

On the Wing: Interpretation of the natural world

By Margo Hearne It’s summer on Haida Gwaii. A quieter time for… Continue reading

Editorial: Hello and haawa Haida Gwaii

An introduction to Local Journalism Initiative reporter Karissa Gall

More parks, trails and protected areas reopen for local day use on Haida Gwaii

Council of the Haida Nation announced more reopenings on Friday, July 3

PHOTOS: Haida Gwaii residents mark Canada Day with mini parade and more

Rainmakers also performed on Canada Day, but singer Julia Weder said they call it ‘occupation day’

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

Man charged in Rideau Hall crash had rifle, shotguns, high-capacity magazine: RCMP

Hurren is accused of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the prime minister

B.C. extends income assistance exemption for COVID-19

Provincial program to match Ottawa’s CERB, student pay

Broadway veteran Nick Cordero dies from coronavirus complications

During Cordero’s hospitalization, Kloots sent him daily videos of her and their 1-year-old son, Elvis,

Northern communities welcome tourists as province opens to in-B.C. travellers

Officials have asked British Columbians to be careful as they travel this summer

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Most Read