VICTORIA -- The Snuneymuxw First Nation near Nanaimo has lifted its shelter-in-place order that was issued after a cluster of COVID-19 cases appeared in the community.

The emergency order was lifted on Wednesday, after new cases of the virus dropped to zero. As of Wednesday, 36 people in the community had tested positive for COVID-19.

While cases were still climbing, COVID-19 vaccines were distributed in the community to help limit the cluster.

As of Wednesday, 71 per cent of the community had received the vaccine. However, Snuneymuxw leadership stress that vaccination “does not mean you are completely immune from COVID-19.”

Everyone in the Nation is asked to continue following health orders issued by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, which significantly limit social interactions.

“While we should celebrate our successes and be mindful of the risks, COVID-19 is still present in the province,” said Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse in a release Wednesday.

“Our Nation offers our strength and support for everyone affected to get through theses times. While the path seems difficult right now, with clear plans and policies and coordinate action, a brighter day will come,” he said.

Snuneymuxw residents are free to leave the community, though everyone is encouraged to avoid non-essential travel. Guests are currently not allowed on the reserve if they are not on essential business while B.C.’s health orders are in effect.

Meanwhile, a shelter-in-place order at another Vancouver Island First Nation remains in effect.

Cowichan Tribes extended its health order until at least Feb. 5 due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases. The shelter-in-place order was first put into effect on Jan. 6 and was originally set to expire on Jan. 22.

As of Jan. 15, the Nation had reported just over 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That same day, the community completed administering all 600 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine that it had received.

After Cowichan Tribes announced its first cases of the virus on Jan. 1, the community has been the target of racism. However, many have also supported the Nation and praised its decision to be transparent in its pandemic response efforts, including local, provincial and federal politicians.