FILE - Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace was designated as one of B.C.’s prime COVID-19 treatment facilities in the early days of the pandemic. Health officials confirmed early this week that people on Haida Gwaii who test positive for the virus would be supported in relocating to accommodation on the mainland if they want to self-isolate closer to a major hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)

Haida Gwaii COVID cases may be flown to mainland: health officials

Community health nurse says ‘there were a lot of swabs’ over the weekend

People on Haida Gwaii who test positive for COVID-19 may be flown to the mainland as a proactive measure, health officials have confirmed.

Speaking during a virtual public meeting on July 27, hosted by the Old Massett emergency operations centre (EOC), community health nurse Shauna Smith said individuals on the islands who have been infected with the novel coronavirus may be transported to a hotel closer to a major hospital, such as the Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace.

While self-isolating at a hotel, Smith said they would be “followed very closely by Northern Health.”

“Then we wouldn’t have to worry about that whole medivac situation,” she said. “If our weather was bad and they couldn’t get the person out.”

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) told the Observer the scenario described by Smith would result in no cost to the patient, as part of supports offered in collaboration with the Northern Health Authority (NHA).

“If individuals (in consultation with the physician team) feel it would be safer to self-isolate closer to a major hospital as there may be risks for complications, FNHA and NHA would support the relocation and care for individual to do so,” an FNHA spokesperson said. “The costs for the accommodation, meals and care are covered as part of the collaborative supports between FNHA and NHA.”

ALSO READ: COVID-19 outbreak on Haida Gwaii grows to 14 confirmed cases

Also during the Monday meeting, Smith encouraged residents to follow preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus and get tested if they are symptomatic, “so that we can see what our true numbers are here on Haida Gwaii” since a community outbreak was declared on July 24.

Preventative measures include washing hands, physical distancing and wearing face masks, among others detailed on the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website.

“What we have learned from our first cases is that they were passed on, what it seems like, is from close contact to close contact, so through our spit … being in each other’s airspace,” Smith said.

Even if an individual has mild symptoms, they should call the Northern Health COVID-19 Online Clinic and Info Line at 1-844-645-7811.

According to the BCCDC, symptoms include fever, chills, cough or worsening of chronic cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and muscle aches.

“Sometimes it does take a little time to get through to someone on the line and you might have to wait, however, it’s worth your time if you have to wait,” Smith said.

Callers should have their B.C. Care Card ready as well as their date of birth and legal name, and if they qualify for a COVID-19 test, they will be called for an appointment.

Smith said people attending the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital for testing were being asked to drive through the emergency bay. There, a public health nurse in personal protective equipment has been meeting people outside, doing swabs through vehicle windows.

If someone who does not have access to a vehicle requires a test, EOC staff said they can call 250-626-7293 for assistance.

ALSO READ: Top doc says more COVID-19 testing sites considered amid Haida Gwaii outbreak

“We’re getting results back pretty quickly,” Smith said.

She also said “there were a lot of swabs” over the weekend because “a lot of people were having some mild symptoms of COVID.”

“There are lots of ‘negatives’ coming through,” she said. “We’ve had lots of people self-disclose that their tests are negative.”

A Council of the Haida Nation press release on July 9 said there were only two ventilators on the islands.

As of July 27, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Haida Gwaii was 14.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: Haida Gwaii grocery stores tighten restrictions

Do you have something we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusOld Massett

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

Just Posted

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan arrives at Luxton Hall to cast their votes in advance polls for the provincial election in Langford, B.C., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Pandemic election prompts voter suppression claims by B.C. Liberals

‘These emergencies require in us a maturity that has been lacking in politics for so long’

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of possibly decades-old airplane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of UBC geoscientists discovered the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Most Read