Three COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the Nass Valley.
The cases were identified from tests that were conducted over the weekend of Aug. 29, according to a press release from the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority. 114 tests were conducted that weekend, according to Nisga’a Valley Health Authority officials.
The Nisga’a Nation has been under strict COVID-19 safety protocols since Aug. 29 when the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority first learned that there may have been a possible COVID-19 exposure at several events that were held between Aug. 21 and Aug. 25.
Those events were a procession, the memorial service, the funeral and a settlement feast for the late Dr. Joseph Gosnell, a pillar of the Nisga’a community who was instrumental in negotiating the landmark treaty that solidified self-governance and land ownership for the Nisga’a nation.
Attendees of the services are under a mandatory 14-day self-isolation order from the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority.
The Nisga’a Nation held a video conference featuring several medical experts and officials the night of Sept. 1, two days before the three local cases were announced, in order to provide an update on the situation.
Brandi Trudell-Davis, CEO of the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority, said in the video conference that her organization initially learned about the potential exposure when people who had travelled up from Vancouver for the memorial events returned home and learned they had COVID-19.
“Five members who live in Vancouver coastal region, who attended the services for Dr. Joe Gosnell, self-reported positive COVID-19 tests upon arrival back home,” she said. “They were in the community in a potentially infectious stage of COVID.”
Contact tracing and case-management for those five people is being conducted by Vancouver Coastal Health, Trudell-Davis said.
A media spokesperson for Vancouver Coastal Health said the organization generally does not comment on specific COVID-19 cases unless there is a large outbreak or community transmission that can’t be fully accounted for.
The Nisga’a Valley Health Authority is also working with Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority to co-ordinate a response, according to a joint press release issued by the three organizations Sept. 1.