FILE - A view from the water shows the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre. On Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, the Old Massett emergency operations centre announced there were no active COVID-19 cases on Haida Gwaii. (Haida Gwaii Observer/File Photo)

Haida Gwaii hits zero active COVID-19 cases

Old Massett emergency operations centre made the announcement on Aug. 20

Haida Gwaii has no active cases of COVID-19 for the first time in over four weeks.

The Old Massett emergency operations centre (EOC) announced on Thursday morning that there were no active cases of the novel coronavirus remaining, and Northern Health later confirmed all cases had recovered in an afternoon release.

Aug. 20 also marked three weeks since the last local case was identified by symptoms on July 30 (later confirmed in the lab on Aug. 6).

ALSO READ: Masks mandatory in Old Massett as Haida Gwaii COVID cases total 26

Haida Gwaii has had a total of 26 epidemiologically-linked, lab-confirmed cases to date and no evidence of wider community spread.

An earlier update from the Village of Queen Charlotte EOC on Aug. 12 said that with two, 14-day incubation periods over, the public health officer did not expect any new cases to occur as part of the same epi-linked cluster.

The update also said the health officer was “encouraged to think” the ongoing community outbreak, declared on July 24, could soon be considered over.

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, a COVID-19 outbreak is generally considered over when 28 days have passed from the last date a person was exposed to the virus. Medical officials can, however, reduce or extend the time period needed to declare an outbreak over.

Regarding the timing of declaring the outbreak over, Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins told the Observer that Aug. 28 is a date that has been discussed as that would match with the end of the second incubation period related to the outbreak cases.

“Assuming no new, related cases in the meantime,” she said.

Community outbreak measures remain in place for now and Collins said health officials will be monitoring the situation carefully.

ALSO READ: Province restricts non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii amid COVID outbreak

According to a release from the Council of the Haida Nation, the ministerial order restricting non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii, announced by Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth on July 30 under the provincial state of emergency, will be in place for the duration of the outbreak.

The outbreak “is not likely to be declared over by the medical health officer until there have been no new COVID-19 positive cases confirmed for 28 consecutive days on Haida Gwaii,” the release said.

With no active cases remaining, the Old Massett EOC announced on Friday (Aug. 21) that it was lifting the 9:30 p.m. curfew it put in place when the first case was reported on July 17. However, masks were still mandatory to be worn when out in public.

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