Haida Gwaii reports first case of the coronavirus

Jul 18 2020, 2:15 pm

Haida Gwaii is reporting one new case of COVID-19, the first for the community since the beginning of the global pandemic.

In a statement, the Haida Nation said it received word of one self-reported case of the coronavirus on the islands.

“’Self-reported’ means that one of our good people have notified our officials that they have tested positive for COVID-19,” reads a statement. “We have also received reports from community members who have been notified of possible exposure and are self-isolating.”

In a video message from Jason Alsop, Gaagwiis, Haida president, on July 8, he reiterates that non-residents and visitors need to give the community time to “observe and analyze” their appropriate next steps.

“All we are asking for is time,” he said. “Time to go through our process, time to prepare ourselves, and time to emerge from this state of lockdown to slowly opening up our circles and our communities.

“Time to prepare ourselves to welcome visitors and people back to Haida Gwaii — in a good way, good vibes and good times.”

In a statement issued in April, the roughly 5,000-person community located off the northwest coast of BC said it is “no longer serving visitors and people who are not full-time residents of Haida Gwaii.”

“This restriction will be in effect [until] the Global Pandemic of COVID-19, including the expected second wave, is over.”

The community adds that “visitors will be asked to return immediately to the ferry and wait for the next one.”

The archipelago, consisting of two main islands, says visitors are not welcome during this time because its health services are extremely limited.

The Council of the Haida Gwaii Nation has also posted a notice on its website announcing that village council checkpoints have been put into place at various locations in communities.

“The purpose of these checkpoints is to provide information to residents of the Haida Gwaii state of emergency and to keep people and their loved ones safe,” reads the notice.

“Non-Island residents are prohibited from stopping in HIG̲aagilda, G̲aw Tlagee, or Tlaga G̲awtlaas at this time.”

In a statement, Alsop said “communities are very concerned with non-resident travel” as the “threat has increased with the province declaring hunting and fishing as essential services.”

“We are continuing to work together to do everything we can to protect citizens and Island residents.”

With files from Simran Singh.

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