The Musqueam Indian Band has confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 on its reserve.
The reserve, located on the Fraser River, is adjacent to the city of Vancouver and the nation says it has been COVID-free prior to these cases.
“We knew Musqueam was not invincible to this pandemic, and while the last 10 months have been difficult, we have been steadily preparing for this moment,” reads a statement to members posted on its website.
Notice of the cases went out to members and residents on Jan. 7, the day the band said it learned of the cases, and a public notice was posted the band website and on social media the next day.
Chief Wayne Sparrow provided a video update on Jan. 8, making reference to some miscommunications around the cases and apologizing. He also took the step of sharing the names of those in the community who’d been infected, with their permission.
Sparrow said that a few other members had been exposed to the virus and were self-isolating at home, and that those who tested positive are doing well.
“When our community members found out that they were not feeling well and they went and got tested and they got a positive test back, they went over and above to reach out to their extended family that they may have exposed well before Vancouver Coastal Health to inform them. My hands are up to you,” Sparrow said.
Sparrow also encouraged members to reach out to the nation’s COVID-19 information hotline with any questions, and not to rely on second-hand information.
“If you do hear misinformation, or information that may be going around the reserve, utilize that page (and hotline)... They're there to give the information you require,” he said.
The notice also provided information on restrictions that will be in place until at least Jan. 15.
Residents are recommended to “stay in place” and only leave their homes for essential services like food, water, medicine, health appointments and work.
Walking alone or with a household is still allowed, but not with members of a different household.
“Take a walk by yourself or with your household bubble while maintaining a safe distance from other household bubbles,” reads the restrictions list.
“As a community, we must re-confirm our commitment to protecting our elders and most vulnerable residents by upholding the provincial health officer’s orders,” it concludes.