Residents on Cormorant Island, home of Alert Bay, now have access to COVID-19 antibody testing, supported by Island Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
It’s a community-led effort to learn more about the COVID-19 virus and the cluster of cases on the small island located east of Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove.
From June 24 to June 27, anyone over the age of 12 living on Cormorant Island will have the opportunity to be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, which Island Health says will show if a person had COVID-19 in the past, even if they did not feel sick or test positive.
“We are so proud of the way our community came together to respond to the COVID-19 cluster,” says Don Svanvik, Chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation. “This is an exciting opportunity to continue collaborating with our partners to learn more about this disease and the impact it had on our community.”
Alert Bay Mayor of the Village Dennis Buchman, who once tested positive for the coronavirus, is encouraging everyone over the age of 12 to get tested, even if they feel liken they did not carry the virus.
“There should be no stigma attached to anyone who had COVID-19. Get tested so that the information can be used to help better understand the way this virus affected people here,” said Buchman.
North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says she is excited to offer the tests to the community, as it will greatly improve the knowledge of the virus on the small island.
The small community has not been immune to COVID-19. On April 18, the Village of Alert Bay, ‘Namgis First Nation and Whe-La-La-U Area Council Society declared a local state of emergency in response to increased COVID-19 activity on the island. There were a total of 30 test-confirmed cases during the cluster, although there has not been a test-confirmed case on Cormorant Island since the end of April.
Albert Bay mourned the loss of a COVID-19-related death on April 24, after a member and elder of the Namgis First Nation passed away from the virus.
Island Health says this is among the first communities in B.C. to participate in population-level antibody testing in order to better understand the scope and transmission of COVID-19 within their community.
“Some residents of Cormorant Island may be wondering if they had COVID-19 and didn’t get sick, or if their mild illness was in fact COVID,” says Dr. Dan Cutfeet, a physician at the Cormorant Island Health Centre. “This is an exciting opportunity and the information gathered here will give people a deeper understanding about how this virus impacted our island.”
Island Health and the BCCDC will administer the collection of samples and testing, involvement is voluntary and an individual’s results will be confidential.
Cormorant Island residents wishing to book an appointment for antibody testing can call 1-844-844-2219 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.