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Ehatis continues its COVID-19 outbreak battle with new cases, recoveries and strict bylaws

Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nation’s (ECFN) covid recovery period has been extended as members continue to test positive.

Councillor Ashley John said that as of Dec. 11, there were 25 cases and 20 recoveries on the Ehatis reserve near Zeballos.

Members of the remote west Vancouver Island First Nation continue to test positive. The latest member to have contracted the virus also happens to be the youngest – a baby, according to John, who added that the outbreak has been an “exhausting” ordeal for everyone.

“With every new case we need two more weeks of isolation,” she said and added that there are almost 30 plus close contacts who are still in isolation.

John also said that the First Nation has intensified its lockdown measures for the safety of its members at Ehatis

The Nation passed a strict Infectious Diseases Bylaw on Dec. 6 that takes away membership support and imposes fines of community members found to be breaking lockdown rules.

Under the new bylaw, members are required to have written approvals from the Nation to leave or enter the reserve and it needs to be applied three days in advance.

The Nation has arranged for essential needs and grocery supplies to be delivered to the reserve and they have been working to contain the outbreak within the community, since the first case was announced on Nov. 20.

READ MORE: Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

With Christmas soon approaching, John said that members are going through “too many different emotions,” including worry. External factors like anticipation of storms and power outages add to the worry but everyone is trying to keep calm, John says.

Island Health continues to monitor the situation and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council nurses and First Nations Health Authority has been providing “much needed” mental health support for members, she said.

The First Nation is yet to receive any news about the availability of vaccines for their community, even as the province begins with its COVID-19 vaccination drive with a very limited supply from Pfizer.

On Wednesday, B.C. premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the first doses of the vaccines will be going to frontline health-care workers, including those in long-term care system at two designated sites in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and the Fraser Health region.

READ MORE: VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

Henry had also hinted that logistical challenges brought about by the need to store Pfizer vaccines at extreme sub-zero temperatures limits the immediate scope of distribution to remote places.

Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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