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COVID-19 cluster prompts lockdown of Vancouver Island First Nation

(Courtesy Facebook/SnuneymuxwFirstNation)

The first case was identified on Dec. 30, a 14-day shelter in place order was issued on New Year's Day

So far seven people have tested positive for eth virus in the community which has a population of roughly 600

NANAIMO (NEWS 1130) — A cluster of COVID-19 cases has prompted a lockdown for a First Nation on Vancouver Island.

The first case was identified on Dec. 30, and a 14-day shelter in place order was issued on New Year’s Day after five cases were confirmed in the Snuneymuxw First Nation near Nanaimo.

Members are only allowed to leave home for essential purposes, such as food shopping or doctor’s appointments, checkpoints have been set up to limit movement on and off reserve, and the Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh school has been shuttered until at least Jan. 15.

The Snuneymuxw population is about 1,800 with roughly a third living on reserve.

According to a statement issued Saturday by Chief Mike Wyse, two more cases were identified, bringing the total to seven. That statement stressed the importance of sheltering in place for the duration of the order, and emphasized the importance of limiting all social interaction.

“It was reported yesterday that some homes in our community hosted parties to bring in the New Year. It is very important that we remember that we are in a pandemic and COVID-19 has hit our community,” it reads.

“These kinds of parties and other gatherings seriously increase the risk of transmission for the virus. Please stop all parties and gathering and remain at home. Do not visit other households.”