Tla-o-qui-aht member tests positive for COVID-19

·2 min read

By Melissa Renwick

Esowista, BC - A member within Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Esowista resident started displaying symptoms upon returning home from a trip to Port Alberni and contacted the nation’s Emergency Operations Centre. A COVID-19 test was issued and once it was confirmed positive on Nov. 22, community members were notified.

“We knew going into the second wave that we were going to experience this at some point,” said Elmer Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) chair. “It’s unfortunate that it did happen, but our community was ready.”

As COVID-19 cases began to rise across the province, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation returned to Stage One of their recovery plan at the beginning of November.

“We needed to put our action plan in place and start ramping up our measures so that when a virus came into our community, we’d be ready for it,” Frank said.

The community’s EOC is recommending that only one person per household leave the community for essential services, like picking up prescription medication and collecting groceries.

“Now that the virus is here, I think that community members are starting to see how quickly it could spread,” said Frank. “There’s a lot of cooperation and understanding when we’re making these recommendations.”

Frank said that the COVID-19 patient has been fully transparent, which has helped the EOC respond to contact tracing effectively.

Anyone who was in direct contact with the patient has been notified and is self-isolating, he said.

While the nation is taking all of the necessary steps to keep its members safe, Frank said that citizens need to keep their guards up.

“The virus is spreading so quickly because we’re letting our guards down,” he said. “It’s our friends, it’s our family, it’s our loves ones – we have got to trust them in a different way at this time.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has urged British Columbians to do their part in restricting social gatherings and non-essential travel, a sentiment that Frank echoed.

“At the end of the day, we’re hoping we become a COVID-19 free community,” said Frank. “Tla-o-qui-aht and Nuu-chah-nulth member have to be very careful on how we all act and discipline ourselves moving forward for the best interest of ourselves, our communities and our most vulnerable – our elders.”

Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa