A member of a First Nation located in a remote area of northeastern B.C. has contracted the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, prompting a lock down on the reserve.
The case was identified within the Blueberry River First Nations on Friday (April 9), according to a statement released that day.
Blueberry River First Nations is about 70 kilometres north of Fort St. John.
According to the First Nations’ council, the member “has been in contact with several individuals.” The nation has activated its pandemic plan, which includes a lock down on any visitors entering the reserve.
Anyone who came into contact with the member who contracted the virus is being directed to self-isolate.
Concerns have been raised by Indigenous groups across the country about what resources will be provided to nations to prevent potential outbreaks. Many groups, including the Blueberry River First Nations, face vulnerabilities such as extremely limited health resources, access to food and running water, as well as limited cellular service. As well, longstanding social and economic inequities have made Indigenous people more at-risk of diseases and adverse health impacts.
A number of nations in B.C. have activated lock downs, disallowing travellers from entering or passing through, as well as declaring states of emergency to combat COVID-19, which has no cure nor vaccine.
Last month, the federal government announced $305-million to support Indigenous communities across Canada as they battle and prepare for COVID-19.
Here in B.C., the First Nations Health Authority has unveiled the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program, which will help those in remote locations access health care services during the pandemic.
On Friday (April 10), Marc Miller, the federal minister of Indigenous Services, announced 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on First Nation reserves and five cases in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec.
He said communities can choose to how to use the federal funds, such as purchasing isolation units and personal protective equipment.
“Let me be clear. This is just the beginning. We know more support will be needed. And we will be there to make sure no Indigenous community is left behind,” Miller said.
– with files from The Canadian Press