The McLeod Lake Indian Band has issued a warning about a band member living in Prince George who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not following quarantine orders while he continues to engage in high-risk behaviours.
McLeod Lake health director Meaghan VanSomer received information about the man from the First Nations Health Authority in Prince George late Friday afternoon. She was asked to write a letter posted on the band website to inform other band members of the need to stay vigilant to minimize the risk of coming into contact with the virus.
The letter is also being distributed door-to-door in the First Nations community of about 500, located about 100 kilometres north of Prince George.
The man has been in contact with extended family members in Prince George but did not inform them of his positive diagnosis. VanSomer knows his identity but is not releasing it to protect confidentiality.
“He is isolated but he is not following the safety protocols,” said VanSomer. “The repercussions will be that he will be held in (police) cells because that’s what happens when people aren’t isolating appropriately.”
As of Friday, there were 58 cases of COVID-19 reported in the Northern Health region and no deaths, but VanSomer believes there are many more undiagnosed cases. She warns people not to be lulled into a false sense of security that could result in them dropping their guard against transmission of the virus.
“He’s not the only one,” she said. “There’s a vulnerable population and whether they’re not taking things seriously and whether they know they have COVID or not, unless somebody’s monitoring them. Unhealthy people are going to make unhealthy choices.
“That’s why we’re trying to stay as vigilant as possible. Any time we get news we disseminate to members to remind people. Don’t be too casual with your attitudes right now because it’s not gone anywhere. The only reason why we are flattening the curve is because we are following safe practices. But it only takes one person who gets in touch with a whole bunch of other people.”
VanSomer knows how devastating COVID-19 was to the small coastal indigenous community of Alert Bay. In April, the virus infected 30 people in the village of 1,200 and killed a 59-year-old woman. The cluster is believed to have originated from a traveler.
“It is imperative that we remain vigilant during this time as this disease is here to stay for a long time,” said VanSomer. “It will be our elders and most vulnerable who pay the ultimate price.
“To keep family safe, we ask that you all stay within your small family groups (people who live in your household). It is important at this time to remain in your own homes – wherever that may be, Do not visit Prince George or other communities. Do not share vehicles. Be safe, be smart.”