Snuneymuxw Nation Facebook
(photo via Snuneymuxw Nation Facebook

A COVID-19 cluster at a First Nation located near Nanaimo has led to a shelter-in-place order and additional lockdown measures.

The Snuneymuxw First Nation, located on Eastern Vancouver Island south of Nanaimo, reported the first positive case of the virus on December 30th.

Two days later, on January 1st, the Nation confirmed four additional individuals tested positive, for a total of five active cases.

The Nation issued a shelter-in-place order the same day, effective until January 15th at 9 p.m. Residents are currently required to stay home except for emergency or essential service needs, such as grocery runs or employment.

Access to Snuneymuxw reserves has been limited to a single entry point each, with security checkpoints being implemented.

Households are being asked to designate a single person to take care of emergency or essential service needs. Daily updates on the cluster are being provided at 4:30 p.m. on the Snuneymuxw Facebook Page.

On January 2, two more people tested positive, and an additional five tested positive on January 3. That left 12 active cases in the Nation as of January 4th.

Further lockdown measures were announced on Monday, with all Snuneymuxw buildings, band officers, and recreation centres closing.

The announcement followed an earlier closure of Qwum Qwum Stuwixwulh School, which will remain closed until the shelter-in-place order is lifted.

Remote education is being offered for students, and staff at the school say they will reach out to parents by January 6th with more details.

The Nation also clarified on Monday that the order does not include a 9 p.m. curfew.

“What we are experiencing is nobody’s fault and we are not immune to the virus,” said Chief Mike Wyse in a video statement on December 31st.

“But one thing is for sure: we will walk forward together as Snuneymuxw people.”

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