Haida Gwaii records its first confirmed case of COVID-19
Published Saturday, July 18, 2020 4:21PM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, July 21, 2020 9:28AM PDT
VANCOUVER -- The first case of COVID-19 is being reported on Haida Gwaii despite efforts to limit travel and restrict visitors from coming to the northern archipelago.
The Council of the Haida Nation issued a bulletin Friday, informing residents an infected person notified officials of their positive test result. Community members who may have been exposed to the coronavirus are said to be self-isolating at home.
“At this time, everyone must use extreme care, kindness and caution,” urges the bulletin.
Testing and results are confidential, and Northern Health is notifying anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
A community of the First Nation is considering a curfew to strengthen its local emergency measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Old Massett Village Council recommends a curfew for two locations on Haida Gwaii, including Old Masset Village and Tlaga Gwa Tlaas. The curfew would operate from 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day and be reviewed every two weeks.
The infection comes despite efforts from the First Nation to limit non-essential travel to the islands and restrict visits from non-residents and all but non-essential workers.
Two fishing lodges located on the islands, Queen Charlotte Lodge and West Coast Fishing Club, reopened in spite of the local state of emergency. Haida matriarchs protested this move, but lodge owners say they are complying with guidelines issued by the provincial government, health authorities and WorkSafe B.C.
Adeana Young, a spokesperson for Gaandlee Guu Jaalang, the group of Haida women who protested the lodges reopening, said communities on the islands are stepping up precautionary measures in hopes of preventing the virus from spreading.
"It's unfortunate that we've had a case, but that doesn't mean we're going to have an outbreak," Young said.
She described local grocery stores limiting their capacities and increasing sanitization efforts, adding that some businesses where the person who tested positive had gone have decided to close entirely.
Young also reiterated concerns about the fishing lodges' continued operation.
"It does heighten the awareness of the safety that we need to practice within our communities and as individuals," Young said of the presence of the virus in Haida Gwaii.
"I really hope it brings awareness to the lodges who are operating that regardless of whether it comes from them or another way of coming here, we've always wanted to keep us safe and we've done a lot to try to keep Haida Gwaii free of COVID-19."