Alert Bay had a cluster of COVID-19 cases in April, but has had no new cases since the 30th. (Alertbay.ca photo)

Alert Bay had a cluster of COVID-19 cases in April, but has had no new cases since the 30th. (Alertbay.ca photo)

COVID-19: As First Nation grapples with woman’s death, Alert Bay looks to ease restrictions

By the numbers, Alert Bay’s lockdown has been effective.

Alert Bay’s state of emergency is set to continue for at least another week, but certain restrictions may be lifted, according to Mayor Dennis Buchanan.

Despite there being no new cases of COVID-19 since April 30, Buchanan will request another seven-day extension of the village’s local state of emergency from the province, following the procedures they have followed since the local declaration was initiated April 18.

Since then, 30 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the small island community, and one 59-year-old woman passed away from the virus. It was the first coronavirus death in a B.C. First Nation community.

By the numbers, the lockdown has been effective. All non-essential travel to the island was prohibited (including local residents who left without a return pass), and a 9:30 p.m. curfew was instated. A horn blasts every night at 9 p.m., echoing across the water, giving residents a half-hour to get home. As well, anyone with symptoms has been required to self-isolate, and all residents have been strongly urged to stay home.

In total, 146 people have been tested, which is ongoing. Thirty cases were identified, with a 90 per cent recovery rate. Five patients were sent to hospital, and only one remains in hospital. One person remains in self-isolation.

“Numbers are looking exceptional,” Buchanan said.

READ MORE: State of Emergency declared in Alert Bay due to COVID-19 outbreak

READ MORE: Alert Bay woman dies of COVID-19 as death toll reaches 100 in B.C.

The travel ban may be lifted as early as Monday, but that won’t be confirmed until he gets updated information from Dr. Charlene Enns, the public health officer in charge.

The decision to loosen some or all restrictions will be made in consultation with Dr. Enns, the ‘Namgis First Nation and the Whe-La-La-U Area Council, along with several provincial organization involved in managing the situation, including the Emergency Management BC, Public Health, Vancouver Island Health Authority, First Nations Health, Indigenous Services Canada, BC Ferries, Conservation Officers, the RCMP, and others.

Don Svanvik, elected chief and a hereditary chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation, agreed that the state of emergency has been effective.

“Had there still been free travel to and from the island, the potential for more people getting it would be greatly increased. That’s a simple numbers thing,” Svanvik said. “I’m in favour of it continuing even a little bit longer.

“I’ve been really grateful and thankful for health care professionals for the great work they did looking after us. It’s hard work. They put themselves in between us, so I’m very grateful,” he said, also noting cooperation between all levels of government and community organizations.

“Our community has a long history of coming together in trying times, and we have a very good relationship with the municipality of Alert Bay. It’s been a real team effort beyond our own tripartite team on the island.”

The island community will continue to follow directives to stay home, physically distance and sanitize.

They had been in the process of preparing for the theoretical moment when the virus hit the village when the first case was confirmed.

“And then there was one positive case and then one more and one more,” he said. “It went from preparing and planning to, ‘Okay, it’s not a just-in-case, it’s really here. We’ve got to deal with this.’”


@ZoeDucklow
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusmunicipal politics

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

Just Posted

North Cowichan strengthens some COVID-19 safety protocols, and introduces new ones, as the pandemic enters ts second phase. (File photo)
North Cowichan and CVRD implementing new COVID rules

Municipality reacting to new public health orders

Search and rescue crews from all over Vancouver Island responded to calls to assist with the search for a 19 year-old man with medical issues who got lost on trails in the south end of Duncan on Nov. 21. The man was found Sunday morning and taken to hospital for assessment. (Submitted photo)
Duncan man rescued after getting lost on local trails

19-year-old taken to hospital for assessment

Duncan’s Knights of Columbus hand out cheques to a slew of deserving organizations in an online event Nov. 8, 2020. (Submitted)
Duncan Knights of Columbus hand cheques to lucky 13 in virtual event

Another historic first for the Knights was to have two area mayors join the presentation

Changes to the holidays due to COVID-19 will be a challenge for people with dementia. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Webinars aim to help those with dementia approach holidays

“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons”

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Most Read