(Photo via Cowichan Tribes)

An outbreak of COVID-19 in Cowichan Tribes has led to 23 confirmed cases of the virus as of January 6th, with more cases possible in days ahead.

The largest single First Nation Band in British Columbia first reported cases on January 1st, 2021.

The Nation’s leadership says they have been working with Island Health, First Nations Health Authority, and public health to support contact tracing and to monitor individuals.

Following the announcement of the increase in cases, Cowichan Tribes Chief and Council approved a shelter in place order that will be in effect from 5 p.m. January 6th, 2021 to 5 p.m. January 22nd, 2021.

The order requires all band members to stay home, except for work, school, medical appointments, or to obtain essential items such as groceries.

Members are also permitted to leave their homes for the purpose of caring for family members who are ill.

Events and gatherings from outside a resident’s household are also prohibited. Those living alone are asked to follow provincial health orders for social needs.

Households are also asked to designate a household shopper and to limit shopping trips to once per week. Delivery services for groceries, medications and other essential goods are encouraged.

Under the shelter in place order, Cowichan Tribes will be setting up security checkpoints and barriers as needed to enforce access to the Nation’s territory.

Anyone who is experiencing even mild COVID-19 symptoms is asked to self-isolate and to call 8-1-1. These symptoms include cough, headache, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and chills.

A testing facility has been set up at 5151 Polkey Road, Duncan, B.C., by appointment. Those who wish to set up a testing appointment should call 1-844-901-8442, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Those travelling to a testing appointment are asked to drive alone or to take a taxi. Transportation can also be arranged through Ts’ewulhtun at (250)746-6184.

Additional information on crisis lines and other assistance is available on the Cowichan Tribes website.

“Mukw’ tst ‘o’ slhilhukw, ‘u tu COVID-19 lhxeen (We’re all in this together),” Cowichan Tribes stated.

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