COVID-19 case confirmed for Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation

Tsaxana, BC

On Sept. 2 a COVID-19 case was confirmed in the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, with efforts underway to determine if more in the community have been infected.

“As you may already be aware, one resident of Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation/Tsaxana has been diagnosed with COVID-19,” stated Dr. Mike Benusic, Island Health’s medical health officer for the central region in a Sept. 2 announcement. “Island Health communicable disease nurses have identified close contacts and are working with NTC nurses to ensure they are notified, assessed for symptoms and isolating.”

“We are in contact with every health agency, the NTC, First Nations Health Authority and the provincial health, and following their guidelines,” said Ha’wilth Jerry Jack, a hereditary chief with the First Nation.

“The case is very closely being monitored by Island Health with daily phone calls and/or visits to the home, with social distance of course,” added Renee Mitchell, acting administrator for Mowachaht/Muchalaht. “Others that may have been in contact with the person have been notified and are now in self isolation for the next two weeks as precaution and very closely being monitored.”

This marks the second Nuu-chah-nulth member to be diagnosed with the highly infectious respiratory disease, after Ahousaht announced a case in mid August. But that infection occurred on B.C.’s mainland, while this new case appears to be in the tight-knit reserve community of Tsaxana, which is located next to Gold River.

“We are intensely looking for other cases of COVID-19 in the community by closely monitoring those who have been exposed,” stated Benusic. “We may detect additional cases.”

As of Sept. 2, the provincial government had tracked 1,127 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 33 of whom are hospitalized.  

Mitchell noted that to keep the community safe, Mowachaht/Muchalaht’s council of chiefs have instructed the community to maintain social distancing measures and hold no gatherings. Members are directed to frequently wash their hands, use sanitizer and wear a face mask while out in public.

“It is up to each family and household to ensure their own health safety during this pandemic,” said Mitchell.

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