Community leaders urge residents to follow COVID-19 protocols

How to shut down Highway 20 to non-residents is being discussed

Closing the highway to non-residents is being discussed (file photo)

Local healthcare professionals and Nuxalk leadership are urging community members to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and follow the advice of professionals when it comes to slowing the spread of the virus.

“Don’t go visiting people. Limit interaction with the public. Only pick up what you need. Distance yourself. Social distancing is the only way we are going to keep the virus out,” said Kirsten Milton with Nuxalk Health. “It’s not if. It’s when. It will impact our community and we are remote and isolated. The airport is shut down. We are going to have difficulty transporting anything out of the valley.”

Pacific Coastal has suspended services and as of right now the highway remains open, but there is discussion about closing it to non-residents. Other small communities such as Wuikinuxv and Bella Bella have taken similar measures, and Haida Gwaii has announced it is not welcoming visitors at this time.

“Our hereditary leaders are writing a letter to shut down the highways because one day someone is going to bring it in and we have to be ahead of that,” said Nuxalk elected and hereditary chief Wally Webber on Nuxalk Radio. “There is already overcrowding on reserve and we have to stop the travelers to slow it down.”

The official message from BC’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry as of Thursday, March 19 was that it is safe to go outside to get fresh air, walk pets, ride a bike and exercise while maintaining safe social distances (minimum of 6 feet between people).

“We’re getting a lot of reports that children are still playing in public parks and there were 30 children in the park last night. That is really dangerous,” said Milton. “We are really concerned and our hospital is not staffed enough for an outbreak. We wanted to make that clear. Children should stay at home. Play in yards or at your home, not out in the streets.”

Restaurants and cafes that cannot maintain social distancing of one to two metres between patrons must move to take-out and delivery models. Be measured and show moderation when purchasing food and household goods. There is no shortage of goods in Canada.

Wash your hands well and do not go out unnecessarily. If you are feeling ill stay home and self-isolate. If you have traveled outside of the country you must self-isolate for 14 days. If you need medical advice call 811 or your doctor’s office.

“Anyone can catch it but those who have compromised immune systems, very young, elderly may have a harder time recovering. That’s the message we are receiving,” said Milton “It will affect anybody. There is no limitation on who could get it. We are very scared of those who are elderly and very young.”

As of today, March 20, there are 943 cases of the virus across Canada. British Columbia has 271 confirmed including 8 deaths and 5 resolved. The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 passes 10,000. California’s governor ordered people in the most populous U.S. state to stay home as the coronavirus pandemic’s toll worsened so much world leaders warned of “record” economic pain.

Help flatten the curve by checking symptoms online: https://covid19.thrive.health/ If you or a family member have symptoms or need medical advice, call 811.

For the most up-to-date health information on the #COVID19 outbreak follow the BCCDC on Twitter at @CDCofBC or visit: www.bccdc.ca

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