“Everyone Knows Everyone”: COVID-19 Death in “Namgis First Nation Deeply Affected in Alert Bay

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ALERT BAY (NEWS 1130) – The chief of the “Namgis First Nation on Cormorant Island confirmed that a 59-year-old woman in this community died of COVID-19 on Friday.

His death marks the first life lost to the new coronavirus in a B.C. The First Nations community was described by provincial health worker Dr. Bonnie Henry as a “tragedy” on Saturday.

Alert Bay has a combined population of approximately 1,500, including approximately 500 from the “Namgis First Nation” and another 500 from the village of Alert Bay.

Chief Don Svanvik said the loss was felt deeply in the small community, but said it was up to the family, which includes the woman’s four grown children, to share more details.

“It is obviously very sad, tragic. We are dealing with the virus, like so many other places. We are a small community, I have lived here all my life. Most of the people who are here have lived here most of their lives – or all of their lives – and everyone knows everyone. “

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A cluster of cases on the island has led to a curfew and a travel ban under a local emergency, which is now extended until May 1.

“We have cases here, we have positive cases and it has certainly increased the level of anxiety,” said Svavnik.

He said the community would come together to honor and mourn the woman after the epidemic ended.

“We will have to do it when we have it all behind us. “

There is a small hospital and a clinic in the community, but anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must be transported to Nanaimo for treatment.

In a video posted on Facebook on Friday, Dr. Dan Cutfeet from the ‘Namgis Health Center extended his condolences to the woman’s family and friends.

“We lost a member of the community today. We are thinking of family, we are thinking of friends right now. We are praying for you, ”he said.

He welcomed the community’s commitment to distance themselves and isolate themselves, while encouraging anyone with symptoms or concerns who have contracted the virus to get tested.

“There is no shame in that, it is a virus that anyone can get if exposed. “



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