COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

A First Nations chief of a community northwest of Prince George has confirmed more people in her community have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief Aileen Prince said there are now 13 positive cases in the community — twice as many as last week.

Prince blamed the spread of the disease due to people not wearing face masks, physical distancing and staying home, and noted B.C. has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita in Canada.

“As you know things are getting very serious,” she said in a Facebook video posted Thursday, Sept. 24.

“We have a lot of people in our community that are ill and we’re really trying to get the messaging out that we need to be more careful.”

Despite the number of cases, the disease has not been declared an outbreak by Northern Health (NH).

“If there is a public health concern we will let people know,” stated NH communications spokesperson Eryn Collins.

A total of 26 cases were identified in an outbreak at Haida Gwaii that was declared by NH on Aug. 28.

A potential exposure between Sept 16. and Sept. 18 has been confirmed at Nak’azdli Whut’en’s Nak’albun Elementary School at Fort St. James.

“If we want covid to be out of here it starts with me,” said Nak’azdli Whut’en health manager, Verne Tom Sr.

“So what I’m going to do as an individual is I’m going to keep the mask on, I’m going to keep my bubble small and I’m going to ensure that I’m washing my hands constantly.”

Nak’azdli Whut’en will be bringing in security personnel to help ensure people are following COVID-19 guidelines issued by health officials and businesses are not allowing more people in their facility than they should.

“I know it’s hard and we’re probably not seeing the end of it,” Prince said.

“I’m hoping that people will keep doing what they’re doing in terms of supporting the people, the families that have been affected so far. Keep supporting them, keep sending them love, bringing them food, keep praying for them, keep sending them good thoughts, and keep your circles small but keep your community caring large.”

As of Sept. 24, Indigenous Services Canada said it is aware of 143 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on B.C. First Nations Reserves.

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