Small island community in B.C. sees 26 COVID-19 cases, many among younger people

Small island community in B.C. sees 26 COVID-19 cases, many among younger people
WatchA small island off Port McNeill is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, including one death. A local doctor says 26 people have tested positive. April Lawrence reports.

Fifty-nine-year-old Cormorant Island resident Cindy Mountain died in hospital from COVID-19 on Friday. Her loss comes as the tiny community off Port McNeill struggles to contain an outbreak of the disease.

“We’re a large family here and the loss of an individual any individual in the community has a huge impact emotionally,” said Alert Bay Mayor Dennis Buchanan, who himself has tested positive for the disease.

READ MORE: COVID-19 claims life of First Nations elder in Nanaimo hospital

Local officials say 26 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 on the island, which consists of the community of Alert Bay and the Namgis First Nation. There are approximately 1,300 people who live there.

“If we’re lucky it’s that a lot of the cases are in the younger generation, so 30 and younger,” said Alert Bay Senior Physician Dr. Dan Cutfeet.

Cutfeet says he’s seeing a lot of fevers and gastrointestinal upset but the local health care team has had to send four patients to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital with more severe symptoms.

“Definitely having respiratory issues and when that’s developing we are seeing pneumonias, we’re seeing a decrease of oxygenation, and those are the patients we’re sending out,” said Cutfeet.

Alert Bay is under a state of emergency and a siren rings out each night giving everyone half an hour to get home for curfew. There are also travel restrictions in place. Cutfeet says the efforts are starting to pay off.

“My sense right now is that things have plateaued and that we’ve got a handle on things, are we going to see more cases, yes, so we again, we can’t be complacent on this,” he said.

The hope is that the community is starting to see a light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

“We’re a resilient community we’ll probably come out of this a little stronger than when we went into but it’s going to take a long time to get over this and heal from it,” said Buchanan.

About 10 per cent of the population has now been tested for the disease and of the 26 who have tested positive Cutfeet says more than half have already fully recovered.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!