Efforts to contain any exposure to COVID-19 appear to have paid off for Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (SXFN), which will prohibit non-members from entering the communities of Dog Creek and Canoe Creek until Jan. 18.
SXFN chief and council reassured on-reserve members of their protocols in place as panic initially sunk in when a positive COVID-19 case was publicly confirmed Dec. 18.
Items such as food, firewood, and medication were delivered to contacts of the affected household who were required to self-isolate for 14-days after bringing home a homeless family member from Kamloops who later tested positive for the disease after showing signs of pneumonia.
To date, Chief Hillary (Hank) Adam said no other cases have been identified.
“I feel that we’re out of the woods with that one positive case that we had, but just in terms of how COVID-19 spreads and so on, you don’t know who you’re in contact with,” he said, noting SXFN members have to travel to other centres for essential services such as groceries and medical appointments.
A couple of days following confirmation of the positive case, alarm was raised again when an off-reserve member visited an SXFN household, not knowing until she’d return to Williams Lake that she had been in contact with someone who tested positive for the disease after experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“We had to decide whether or not we would allow people to come and go again until we were assured there wouldn’t be an outbreak and there wouldn’t be people coming and going through the Christmas break,” Adam said.
Checkpoints denying access to non-residents and requiring SXFN members to fill out and sign a COVID-19 self-assessment form were immediately activated on Dec. 23
Although there is little checkpoint attendants can do if individuals do not stop, Adam said they usually get a visit by an SXFN council member who tells them they must self-isolate for 14-days and not visit other households.
He said that very incident happened during Christmas when SXFN council had to bring self-isolating signs, often in red, to warn members from entering, to a home after they were notified of a person from Kamloops going through a checkpoint.
With the 2020 holidays now over, Adam and council agreed Jan. 4 to keep the checkpoints active for another two weeks.