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)

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

”It was an angry welcome for Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Jan Pullinger when she arrived in Lake Cowichan Monday to open her constituency office. She was greeted with some of her long time supporters calling her a ‘liar’. Left to right, Jan Pullinger, Director of Area I, Lois Gage, school trustee Rolli Gunderson, school trustee Pat Weaver, Save our School Committee Chairperson, Tara Daly.” (Lake News/April 17,1996)
Flashback: Garbage, geography and tragedy

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Newton’s first law of motion

I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

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

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read