UPDATE: Island First Nation COVID-19 scare over after test comes back negative

UPDATE: Island First Nation COVID-19 scare over after test comes back negative
WatchThe Pauquachin First Nation near North Saanich says a recent COVID-19 scare has been an eye-opener about how quickly the virus could spread. April Lawrence reports.


The Pauqauchin First Nation office on West Saanich Road closed down last Friday and several staff members went into isolation after a COVID-19 scare.

“We wanted to actually take precautions, close down our office we sent those staff members home and we’re waiting to confirm if there are any other positive cases we need to be aware of,” said Pauquachin Chief Rebecca David.

CHEK News learned on Monday that the test of the coworker that the community was waiting for came back negative, which means the scare was a false alarm.

The office will remain closed on June 22 in honour of Indigenous Peoples Day, said the Pauqauchin First Nation, but will resume operations and reopen their doors on Tuesday, June 23.

What had unfolded Friday was that a staff member had been out for lunch with a family member, who later found out two people at his workplace were being tested for COVID-19.

They had said at the time that the likelihood the virus had been contracted was low, but the First Nation didn’t want to take anything to do with this pandemic lightly.

“A lot of our community has compromised health challenges and we have a lot of vulnerable elders and youth in our community so even just a potential scare or suspected exposure this is the way we need to react, we need to treat every case seriously,” said David.

It’s the same reason the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council recently asked visitors to stay away until proper screening and contact tracing are in place.

“We want to protect our people. People are more important than economics,” Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers said.

READ MORE: Nuu-chah-nulth want tourists to avoid Vancouver Island’s west coast

And it’s also the same reason, early on in the pandemic, the Tseshaht First Nation handed out hand sanitizer to its 100 elders and provided them with $300 cheques for food and cleaning supplies.

READ MORE: Tseshaht First Nation isolating elders as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Although there is relief that the test came back negative, the Pauquachin First Nation said getting a chance to deploy their emergency plan has been a good exercise.

“This does remind us of how serious we need to be and how fast we need to respond,” said David.


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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