Cowichan Tribes chief William Seymour said it’s vital for Cowichan Tribes members to follow public guidelines to combat COVID-19. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Chief urges Cowichan Tribes members to take every precaution against COVID-19

Social distancing, no hugging and minimal physical contact along with good hygiene are critical

Cowichan Tribes Chief William (Chip) Seymour used some blunt language in encouraging his community to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.

“I don’t want this virus taking over and diminishing our population the way the diseases did when the Qwiinitum [Europeans] first came our way,” Seymour warned in a 10-minute message streamed live on Facebook Thursday afternoon.

“When you look at 1966, our population was less than 1,000 of us because of those diseases,” Seymour said.

In urging Tribes members to follow the public health guidelines for their own protection, particularly more vulnerable elders, Seymour said the threat must be taken seriously.

“We are asking our members to please be patient and follow the guidelines and sanitary measures to keep yourselves and your families safe in these trying times.”

He said social distancing, no hugging and minimal physical contact along with good hygiene are critical at this time.

“Chief and council isn’t trying to stop our culture, we all believe in our culture, but we are thinking about the safety of everyone in our community,” the chief said.

“When we look at stats that we received Tuesday ,we anticipate that 50 to 70 per cent of the community will acquire the infection over time. Eighty per cent are expected to have mild symptoms.”

Seymour said people should familiarize themselves with the symptoms and take every precaution if they are not feeling well.

“We are looking at ways to help our community out through getting funding through the government so we can get extra food out to those in need,” he added.

Cowichan Tribes offices are closed to the public until further notice. However, members can access information and services through the Cowichan Tribes website.

Seymour said further social media updates will be forthcoming next week and a newsletter will also be available soon.

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