VICTORIA -- A member of the Cowichan Tribes on Vancouver Island has died of COVID-19, according to the Duncan-area First Nation.

The victim is the first Cowichan Tribes member to die of COVID-19 since an outbreak was declared in the community on Jan. 1.

Chief William Seymour said Tuesday he is “deeply saddened” by the death and asked the public to give the community space and time to grieve.

“The loss of any member of Cowichan Tribes is deeply felt by everyone in our community,” Seymour said in a statement Tuesday evening.

“The next few weeks will be critical in our fight against COVID-19,” Seymour added. “I urge all Cowichan Tribes members and citizens of the Cowichan Valley to remain vigilant.”

Seymour declined to identify the victim out of respect for the family.

The First Nation remains under a shelter-in-place order, which has been extended until Feb. 5.

Cowichan leadership urges all community members to continue following COVID-19 health orders and guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The nation has recorded 171 cases of COVID-19 affecting 64 households, with 39 people in isolation as of Monday, according to local health authorities.

Six people in the community have been hospitalized with the disease.