Burns Lake is a COVID-19 hotspot. (BC CDC photo/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake becomes a COVID-19 hotspot with 21 cases from Dec. 27 to Jan 2 this year

Vaccine to soon come to Burns Lake, says Mayor

Burns Lake Local Health Area (LHA) has now become a hotspot for COVID-19 cases with 21 cases between Dec. 27, 2020 to Jan. 2, 2021. Smithers, Bulkley Valley, has 20 cases.

This represents a daily infection rate of 15.1 to 20 per 100,000 population, a measure the B.C. Centre for Disease Control uses to allow comparison between areas with different population densities.

That brings the total case count for the Burns Lake LHA to 84 since January 2020.

Mayor Dolores Funk for the village of Burns Lake said in an email to Lakes District News, “The current situation that we are seeing in Burns Lake is certainly unfortunate. Becoming a COVID “hotspot” was not a distinction that any of us wanted. However, here we are. My message is the same – head down, chin up, follow the provincial health orders and the recommendations – wash your hands, physically distance, wear your mask, stay home. We can all do these things, and if we all comply, we will quickly be seeing this situation in the rear view mirror.”

Funk also shared the news of a vaccine coming soon to Burns Lake.

“I have just been informed by Northern Health, that they are working on their vaccine implementation strategy for Burns Lake. This is welcome news for what is the eleventh month of constant concern and effort to respond to this crisis. Implementation will follow the format set out by the Province and will focus on health care workers, long-term care residents, staff and essential visitors, and our First Nation communities. Beyond these vulnerable populations, we will see roll-out of the vaccine to the general public sometime after March,” she said.

Lake Babine Nation Deputy Chief, Derek MacDonald, also shared his thoughts on the current situation in Burns Lake and surrounding areas.

“For me, what’s going on in our community, not just in Burns Lake but also our small community of Woyenne, is very worrisome. It is very scary what is transpiring right now,” he said.

MacDonald also shared the COVID-19 numbers from Woyenne and said that since September 2020, Woyenne has had 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 16 unconifirmed cases. He also said that 33 had recovered and there still were seven active cases.

“I think that in the community of Burns Lake and in our small communities, we have to try and beat it together; we are all in this together. Let’s keep the restrictions going, we are not out of the woods yet. I know the vaccine is on its way but I really think that we should keep practicing what we have been so far,” he said, adding that he felt it was very important to acknowledge the frontline workers, the emergency operations committee workers for their tremendous role in keeping everyone safe.

READ MORE:‘A historic time’: 18 remote First Nations communities in B.C. get COVID-19 vaccine

Caseloads in surrounding Northwest Health Service Delivery Area LHAs for the last week of December included Smithers 20, Terrace 29, Nisga’a 24, Nechako 5, Prince Rupert 5, Upper Skeena 4, and Kitimat 4.

And for the first time since Haida Gwaii’s outbreak of 26 cases in July and August, the islands recorded their first case.

The Snow Country, Telegraph Creek and Stikine LHAs reported no cases between them.

On Jan. 7, in a news conference, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry expressed her concern over the curve trending upwards. She also informed that in the past 24 hours, the province had a record-high number of cases in about one month’s time with 761 new infections of the novel coronavirus, as well as eight additional deaths.

With the rising trend in cases, B.C. health officials have now extended the current bans on social gatherings, which prohibit gatherings and events as well as meeting up with people outside of your immediate household, and restrictions on athletics for another four weeks, until Feb. 5.

The province also has a mask mandate in place making it a requirement for all British Columbians, 12 years and older, in indoor public settings, to wear a mask. Only those who cannot wear a mask due to a physical or cognitive impairment are exempt from the mandate. B.C.’s mask mandate, backed by provincial enforcement means, if British Columbians don’t follow the new rule they can be fined $230.

– With files from Thom Barker

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist


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