B.C. restricting non-resident travel to Haida Gwaii amid COVID-19 outbreak
VANCOUVER -- The B.C. government has restricted travel to Haida Gwaii in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 there.
The province said in a news release Thursday afternoon that Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth would use powers granted to him by the provincial state of emergency to restrict travel by non-residents to the archipelago while maintaining the availability of essential goods and services for island residents.
"The province, Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority are working closely with the Haida Nation and local governments on Haida Gwaii to respond to this COVID-19 outbreak," Farnworth said in the release. "Our foremost concern is the health and safety of all residents of Haida Gwaii, and we're working together to limit further spread of COVID-19."
The B.C. government says it will deploy provincial staff to communities on the mainland and on Haida Gwaii to help implement the travel restriction.
There are currently 20 cases associated with the coronavirus outbreak on Haida Gwaii. All of them are believed to be related to residents who travelled off-island or had contact with someone who did.
During her update on the province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there had been no additional positive tests on Haida Gwaii over the last 24 hours, something she called "very good news."
That said, there are still residents on the islands who are within the virus's incubation period, Henry said, so more cases associated with the outbreak are possible.
The province says testing for Haida Gwaii has been prioritized, with results being received within 36 hours of a test.
Contact tracing is also ongoing, and supports - including special accommodations for self-isolation, if necessary - are in place on the islands for those who have tested positive, the province says.
"Travel to Haida Gwaii will continue to be permitted, subject to the approval of the collective Haida Gwaii communities, for the delivery of essential goods and supplies, medical appointments, urgent or emergency family matters, and for the provision of essential services as defined by the unified command structure comprised of the Council of the Haida Nation, village councils and local governments," the province said in its release.