2 B.C. First Nations under state of emergency due to COVID-19

·1 min read

Two First Nations declared a state of emergency this week due to COVID-19, after several cases of the highly infectious disease were detected.

The McLeod Lake Indian Band has been under lockdown since Wednesday due to an outbreak that saw three elders test positive and one die.

The Lower Similkameen Indian Band also has cases of COVID-19. A state of emergency was declared on Jan. 30.

In a written statement Wednesday, McLeod Lake Indian Band Chief Harley Chingee said elder Sheri Solonas passed away Tuesday due to the virus.

He asked band members to stay home.

"While I recognize that this would be a time for our families to gather, support one another and mourn, there is no more important time than to stay within your immediate family household bubble. I urge you all to connect via phone and computer to support your loved ones while the current outbreak in our community is being contained," Chingee wrote.

Besides a mandatory stay-at-home order, the lockdown measures include the closure of the McLeod Lake Indian Band's administration office.

"The only band employee that has been allowed past the security line [to access the office] is the band manager," said Deputy Chief Jayde Duranleau. "Everyone is working from home or virtually."

In the statement, Chingee also said if members break the stay-at-home order, they won't be allowed back until the lockdown ends.

"Please understand that these measures are only in effect to protect us all and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our most vulnerable members in the community," he wrote.

He said groceries and other essential services would be delivered to members' homes on Friday.