VICTORIA -- Another Vancouver Island First Nation has issued a shelter-in-place order following a steep rise in COVID-19 cases.

Cowichan Tribes is asking all residents to stay in their homes as much as possible until Jan. 22, after 23 cases of the virus have been confirmed since New Year’s Day.

“More cases may be announced in the days ahead as we await test results,” said Cowichan Tribes officials in an announcement Wednesday. “This is a critical time for each of us to do our part to limit the spread of the virus and to remain calm and be kind to one and other.”

The nearly two-dozen people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are currently self-isolating and have been in contact with health-care workers, according to Cowichan Tribes.

While the shelter-in-place order is in effect, residents are asked to avoid meeting with people outside of their household and only leave their homes for essential reasons, such as picking up groceries, going to work, going to school, attending medical appointments or caring for sick family members.

Meanwhile, barriers and checkpoints will be set up at the borders of the Cowichan Tribes reserve to ensure that access in and out of the nation is for essential reasons only, and to provide information to travellers.

Further details on the nation’s shelter-in-place order can be found here.

Cowichan Tribes is the second Vancouver Island First Nation to enter a lockdown since the start of the New Year.

Snuneymuxw First Nation issued a shelter-in-place order on Jan. 1 after a single case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the community. By Tuesday, the case count had risen to 19.

“We are definitely in trying times for Snuneymuxw, but as a community we are hanging in there and moving forward, we’ve got a lot of good support on our side,” said Snuneymuxw First Nation’s Chief Mike Wyse on Tuesday.

As the cluster of cases climbed, the Mid-Island First Nation received a shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, with the first doses going to elders and frontline workers