Curfews have been put in place for Old Massett (pictured) and Skidegate following a Council of the Haida Nation community bulletin on Friday, July 17, 2020 announcing that they had received a self-reported case of COVID-19 on the islands. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Council of the Haida Nation reports case of COVID-19 on Haida Gwaii

Community members notified of possible exposure; Old Massett, Skidegate set curfews

The Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) released a community bulletin just before midnight on July 17 to notify residents of Haida Gwaii that they had received a self-reported case of COVID-19 on the islands.

The bulletin also said the CHN had received reports from community members who have been notified of possible exposure and were self-isolating.

Anyone with symptoms is asked to phone the Northern COVID-19 online clinic to be referred for testing if appropriate. Call 811 or Northern Health’s Online Clinic at 1-844-645-7811. Online clinic hours are Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays.

“At this time, everyone must use extreme care, kindness and caution,” the bulletin said. “Continue to observe the Haida Gwaii state of emergency COVID-19 measures: respect physical distancing, wash your hands before and after touching your face.”

The next day, on July 18, the CHN updated its COVID-19 emergency measures, with changes that include self-isolating for 14 days if residents return to Haida Gwaii from any location, even from within the Northern Health region, limiting all non-essential travel between communities on the islands, pulling back social circles to include only immediate family members, and curfews and checkpoints in Skidegate as well as Old Massett, from 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.

As part of the updated measures, residents were asked to not travel off-island unless essential, such as for medical travel. Non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii was still not permitted by the CHN. Businesses and organizations were to continue services at their own discretion, in compliance with current provincial health and WorkSafeBC standards.

The CHN also hosted a live webinar at 7 p.m. on July 17 to update residents on community care and COVID-19 measures.

ALSO READ: 3 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Northern Health

The webinar, bulletin and update all followed rumours circulating on the islands that there may be a case of COVID-19 locally, some based on a now-deleted post that was shared from the Skidegate Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page.

The department later apologized for the post, saying it was “intended to remind first responders that [they] respond to all calls assuming the individual(s) are sick to avoid exposure on [their] crew.”

“[The CHN] will release information once it has been fact-checked and been made public,” the new post said.

ALSO READ: 28 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. including baby in neonatal intensive care unit

Dr. Caroline Walker, chief of staff at the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital, said she was “disheartened to see this rumour about a COVID-19 case spreading and creating such panic.”

“This will make people fearful to get tested and backfire on managing a pandemic,” Walker wrote in a post on social media. “The fundamentals of public health are ‘test, trace and isolate’. If we encourage fear, then people will not be tested and public health cannot do its job.

“Please continue to be kind to each other and follow the basic public health advice to keep each other safe. If there is a confirmed case, public health will notify close contacts that are at risk. If the broader public is at risk and an outbreak is declared, this will be made public.”

Physicians of Haida Gwaii also posted an update on July 18 on the Haida Gwaii Health website, reminding residents that they can all do our part by taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus, “are ready for this” and “are going to be OK.”

Earlier on July 17, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters there were three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Northern Health region, involving people in separate communities. Two of the cases were connected to travel, Henry said, and an investigation by health officials was underway to do with the third.

Health officials do not release details for specific locations related to single cases unless it is deemed a cluster or an outbreak, citing privacy concerns.

The Observer has reached out to the CHN for comment.

ALSO READ: ‘Symptom-free two weeks’: Skidegate EOC lifts warning about Sandspit COVID-19 exposure

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


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

COVID-19 tests come back negative in remote First Nation community

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Wildway Farms open for business in Hagensborg

Local entrepreneurs Gwyneth Anderson and Joseph Battensby are hard at work at their new business

Young boy finds mask stolen during recent break-in

Gage Pootlass immediately took the mouse mask back to its rightful owner, Kathleen Booth

Bear gets into garbage at Thorsen Creek Landfill after waste disposed into wrong bin

A grizzly bear accessed garbage that was put in the wrong bin and ended up outside the electric fence

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

We were a bit tone deaf: Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Most Read