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Haida Gwaii reports first COVID-19 case

Last Updated Jul 30, 2020 at 8:52 pm PDT

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. Experts say necessary measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic could be setting Canada back in the battle against superbugs.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML

A bulletin released Friday by the Council of the Haida Nation says the case was self-reported

Haida Gwaii declared a State of Emergency March 23, and the Nation says it remains in effect along with a ban on travel

HAIDA GWAII (NEWS 1130) — The first case of COVID-19 has been recorded on Haida Gwaii, according to the Council of the Haida Nation.

A bulletin released Friday says the case was self-reported.

“‘Self-reported’ means that one of our good people have notified our officials that they have tested positive for COVID-19,” reads a statement from the Council of the Haida Nation. 

“We have also received reports from community members who have been notified of possible exposure and are self-isolating. At this time, everyone must use extreme care, kindness and caution”

Haida Gwaii declared a State of Emergency on March 23, and the Council of the Haida Nation says it remains in effect along with a ban on recreational travel. However, two fishing lodges recently reopened to visitors amid objection from the Nation.


Adeana Young with Gaandlee Guu Jaalang, or “Daughters of the Rivers,” says preventing an outbreak remains an urgent priority.

“My mind goes immediately to: What have we done to keep us safe thus far and how can we keep us safe moving forward, preventing an outbreak, protecting our vulnerable with compromised immune systems?” she says.

“It’s going back to the safety measures that our island leadership and [emergency operations centre] have put in place. Maintaining social distancing, all the advice that Dr. Bonne Henry put out. I feel like now is the time for myself to remain calm and not get into a panic state or a state of fear, and to really pull together all the things that we’ve been learning right from the beginning of the pandemic.”

Young says programs have been put in place so Elders and other vulnerable people can isolate at home without going hungry. Garden boxes to facilitate planting easy to grow vegetables have been delivered, and volunteers are doing grocery shopping. A safety check has also been set up to screen everyone going into Old Massett.

Since the case was announced Friday, she says the community has become quiet.

“Since yesterday, with the awareness of a possible case of COVID in Massett everything went right back to how it was at the very beginning. We’ve seen less traffic, there’s not a lot of vehicles parked in store parking lots, there’s not a lot of movement,” she says.

“It’s heightened that awareness that it’s not time to relax on any of the rules and recommendations that have been put forward.”

Details about the person who tested positive aren’t known, and Young says she can’t help but worry about potential exposure.

“The unknown of who the person is that was in contact with COVID-19 raises my concern. Have I crossed paths with this person? Have I potentially been exposed to it?”

Northern Health reported three positive COVID-19 cases Friday, but public health officials do not report on exact locations.

With files from Kareem Gouda