B.C. public health officials declare COVID-19 outbreak on Haida Gwaii

health officials

Health officials with Northern Health in British Columbia have declared an outbreak on Haida Gwaii after 13 cases were confirmed in a community on the island.

“All of the cases are epidemiologically 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,” Northern Health said in a statement sent Friday evening.

“There is no evidence at this time of wider community transmission of COVID-19 on Haida Gwaii.”

It was only last Friday, Council of The Haida Nation released a public bulletin that had their first case on the island, which is located off the north coast of B.C., and has a population of about 4,600 people according to the 2016 census.

The nation’s leadership had a state of emergency in place since March 23 due to the pandemic.

The island has limited health resources and with only two hospitals.

Northern Health says all active cases are at home self-isolating without impacting health care facilities

“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.”

Public health officials and First Nations Health Authority are working with the Council of the Haida Nation and local municipalities on the island to coordinate community response and provide medical support.

The community is currently at odds with a fishing lodge that opened on the island as part of the province’s phase three opening plan.

There is no link to the outbreak with the lodge that officials have identified.

Video Journalist / Kitimat Village, B.C.

Lee is a video journalist with APTN News, who shoots, reports and edits stories out of northern British Columbia. As a member of the Haisla Nation, Lee is proud to call Kitimat Village home again after living on Vancouver Island for 18 years. He has a passion for storytelling and looks forward to sharing stories through the lens of First Nations people.