British Columbia

COVID-19 outbreak declared on Haida Gwaii with 13 cases

B.C. health officials announced Friday a new community outbreak in Haida Gwaii, with 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of that number, one person has recovered.

B.C. also announces 27 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death

The Haida Nation previously spoke of its concerns of an outbreak in the community, saying it had limited health resources. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • 27 new cases of coronavirus confirmed on Friday, including 1 epi-linked case
  • 1 new death.
  • 12 people in hospital.
  • 3 people in intensive care.
  • 294 cases remain active.
  • 191 people have died.
  • 2,934 people have recovered.
  • 3,419 total cases in B.C. 

B.C. health officials announced Friday a new community outbreak in Haida Gwaii, with 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of that number, one person has recovered.

"At this time, cases are all local residents. While the initial source of transmission is still being investigated, the cases are all epidemiologically linked. Some are related to residents who had recently travelled off island, and others are from exposure to known cases," the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Northern Health's interim chief medical health officer, Dr. Jong Kim, said officials believe they have the outbreak under control.

"It's relatively contained, but given the size and given the evolution of the situation, we called in the outbreak declaration so we can take proactive measures and precautions so we can prevent this from getting bigger," he said in an interview on CBC Radio West.

The first case of COVID-19 on Haida Gwaii was detected July 16, but health officials would not confirm its presence on the archipelago until today. Asked about the delay, Dr. Kim said he did not believe the spread would have been contained had they alerted the public earlier.

"Usually with COVID-19 cases, by the time that we know of the cases and follow-up with contacts, the exposure has already taken place," he said.

Northern Health does not believe the cases are linked to a public exposure event, which is when officials issue a  warning about potential exposure to COVID-19 from attending public spaces such as restaurants or gyms.

Travel restrictions being discussed

The Haida Nation had previously raised concerns over an outbreak in the community, pointing to limited health resources.

Kim said Northern Health is in discussions with the Haida about implementing travel restrictions, but said "right now it is too early to comment."

Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, president of the Council of the Haida Nation, said he was worried about the outbreak, but urged calm in the community.

"We've been working hard to keep the people of Haida Gwaii safe for over four months and preparing for a response if this did happen," he said.

"We're obviously concerned for the health and well-being of all the people of Haida Gwai, [but] I think really it's a time to be calm and be kind to each other."

Kim also urged calm, saying that so far none of the people with COVID-19 have required acute care, and resources are in place to respond if the situation changes.

Twenty-seven new cases of COVID-19, including one epi-linked case, and one more death were reported in B.C. on Friday.

"There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks. In total, one long-term care facility and two acute-care facilities have active outbreaks."

British Columbians are being reminded to reduce the potential for COVID-19 this summer by assessing the risks before socalizing. 

"Can you keep a safe distance from others? Are you giving people the space to stay safe? Are you spending a short time together? Are you outside? Are the people you are with in your bubble? These are the questions we all need to ask ourselves, " health officials said in a statement.

"If you can't say yes to these questions, then say no to the activity and choose to do something else instead."

Exposure at clothing store in Kelowna

Interior Health has added another business to the list of places where individuals may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Anyone who visited Fossello's clothing store on 565 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna on July 18 or on the morning of July 20 (10 a.m. - 12 p.m.) are asked to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if they begin to exhibit them.

The health authority says contact tracing is underway and efforts are being made to directly reach individuals who may have been exposed. 

British Columbians can check online to see if they might have been exposed to COVID-19 while out in public.

The Vancouver Coastal HealthFraser HealthInterior Health, Northern Health and Island Health authorities now all have websites listing recent public exposure events.

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