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Haida Gwaii focussing on containment after COVID-19 outbreak declared

Last Updated Jul 24, 2020 at 7:39 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, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
Summary

The archipelago has been under a state of emergency since March 23 with travel tightly restricted

A statement from Northern Health says all 13 cases of COVID-19 on Haida Gwaii are linked

HAIDA GWAII (NEWS 1130) — One leader on Haida Gwaii says he’s confident an outbreak in the community can be contained.

The archipelago has been under a state of emergency since March 23 with travel tightly restricted, and the community outbreak was declared Friday.

On July 18, after the first case was reported on Haida Gwaii, the Old Massett Village Council and Skidegate Band Council instituted curfews and checkpoints.

“We’re turning people away after 9:30 p.m.,” says Donald Edgars, Chief Councillor of Old Massett Village.

“We’ve been preparing over 129 days now so we have a very good team that’s working very hard on it. I think we’ve somewhat contained the outbreak and I think we’re in a really good place here. It’s on island and we have to deal with it now.”

HAIDA GWAII COMMUNITY BULLETIN – July 22, 2020To view online, visit: <https://bit.ly/3jwY5kw>

Posted by Council of the Haida Nation on Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Edgars adds there is no way to know exactly who has contracted the virus, but he is grateful that the first person to test positive self-reported so the health authority could take action.

“The person that came forward is self-isolating, and we were very thankful for [them] to come forward so we can do the contact tracing. We knew that more people were going to be infected with COVID-19 in the coming days so we were prepared for that.”

A statement from Northern Health says all 13 cases of COVID-19 are linked.

“While the initial sources of transmission are still being investigated, it is believed that all cases are either residents who had recently travelled off-island or had exposure to other residents who had recently travelled off-island,” the statement reads.

“All of the active cases are self-isolating at home, and clear processes are in place for identifying and informing close contacts, so they can take appropriate precautions. There is no evidence at this time of wider community transmission of COVID-19 on Haida Gwaii.”

Edgars says his community is focussing on protecting elders and those who are most vulnerable.

“That’s why we worked so hard to try to mitigate COVID coming to Haida Gwaii,” he says.

“They know we’re trying to do everything we can to protect them.”

There are only two ventilators on Haida Gwaii, but Northern Health says “there are no impacts on acute care services at hospitals on Haida Gwaii.”