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

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Port Hardy Mounties help First Nation chief build smokehouse

‘We have great maya’xala for all the community members, in each of the communities…’

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Access to remote Side Bay beach up in the bureaucratic air

Roads to the pristine north west coast Vancouver Island beach at risk of being deactivated

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Most Read