Alert Bay had a cluster of COVID-19 cases in April, but successfully defeated the virus. (Alertbay.ca photo)

COVID-19 antibody testing underway on Cormorant Island

‘I would encourage everyone over the age of 12 to get tested, even if they did not feel sick’

Island Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) are supporting a community led effort to learn more about the COVID-19 virus and the cluster of cases that occured on Cormorant Island, which is located off Northern Vancouver Island.

“We are so proud of the way our community came together to respond to the COVID-19 cluster,” says Don Svanvik, Elected Chief and Hereditary Chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation. “This is an exciting opportunity to continue collaborating with our partners to learn more about this disease and the impact it had on our community.”

Between June 24 and June 27, anyone over the age of 12 living on Cormorant Island will have the opportunity to be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies. The test will show if a person had COVID-19 in the past, even if they did not feel sick or test positive.

“I would encourage everyone over the age of 12 to get tested, even if they did not feel sick,” says Dennis Buchanan, Mayor of the Village of Alert Bay. “There should be no stigma attached to anyone who had COVID-19. Get tested so that the information can be used to help better understand the way this virus affected people here.”

“When Chief Svanvik and Mayor Buchanan requested this antibody testing for their community, we were excited to offer our support,” says Dr. Charmaine Enns, North Island Medical Health Officer. “As we continue to learn about this disease, the knowledge gained on Cormorant Island will be an invaluable resource.

On April 18, the Village of Alert Bay, ‘Namgis First Nation and Whe-La-La-U Area Council Society declared a local state of emergency in response to increased COVID-19 activity on the island. There were a total of 30 test-confirmed cases during the cluster. There has not been a test-confirmed case on Cormorant Island since the end of April.

This is among the first communities in B.C. to participate in population level antibody testing in order to better understand the scope and transmission of COVID-19 within their community.

“Some residents of Cormorant Island may be wondering if they had COVID-19 and didn’t get sick, or if their mild illness was in fact COVID,” says Dr. Dan Cutfeet, a physician at the Cormorant Island Health Centre. “This is an exciting opportunity and the information gathered here will give people a deeper understanding about how this virus impacted our island.”

Island Health and the BCCDC will administer the collection of samples and testing. Involvement is voluntary and an individual’s results will be confidential.

Cormorant Island residents wishing to book an appointment for antibody testing can call 1-844-844-2219 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

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