Okanagan Indian Band responds as several cases of COVID-19 confirmed in community

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Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) has confirmed several cases of COVID-19 within the community located near Vernon, B.C. The cases are linked to a “Christmas get-together,” according to a press release issued by OKIB on January 7, 2021 — though a total number of active cases has not yet been confirmed.

“Chief and Council remind members that a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 is a health issue and not necessarily an indication of poor judgement,” the release says.

They also encourage people to wash their hands, practice social distancing, and avoid all social gatherings.

“COVID is here to stay,” says OKIB Chief Byron Louis in the release.

“Let’s get used to the new reality and work hard to protect one another. Follow the protocols. Stay calm, stay positive, and stay home.”

The OKIB Health team and nurses are working with Interior Health to “ensure containment by quarantine, and limiting additional spread through contact tracing.”

While they did not give a specific date, OKIB expects to start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations for its members between January and March of this year.

“We can flatten the COVID-19 curve and make a meaningful impact on our community by following the protocols,” says Louis. As of Jan. 7, 2021 Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) reports 3,288 active cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves. In total, there have been 9,968 confirmed positive cases on First Nations reserves according to ISC data, 785 of those cases have been in B.C.

Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse