Several cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the Okanagan Indian Band community, according to a member bulletin released Thursday.
The current cases have been traced to a Christmas get-together. In line with more general reports from public health officials in B.C., the OKIB Health team expects to see another spike in the coming days related to New Year’s celebrations, according to the Jan. 7 bulletin.
OKIB officials said the OKIB Health team is not concerned about public safety and the individuals who tested positive are self-isolating in accordance with the band’s pandemic response protocols. But as the bulletin states, the cases confirm the current risks of social gatherings.
“We can flatten the COVID-19 curve and make a meaningful impact on our community by following the protocols,” said OKIB Chief Byron Louis. “We did it in the spring and summer and we can do it again if we act now. Listen to the health experts and be a leader by helping to protect your community.”
The news comes as 95 new cases were reported in Interior Health, Thursday. Meanwhile, Revelstoke and Vernon lead the North Okanagan and Shuswap regions in new cases over the turn of the new year — 76 in Vernon and 37 in Revelstoke from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2.
Chief Louis and council reminded members that a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 is a health issue, not necessarily an indication of poor judgment; those who follow pandemic protocols are at a lower risk of contracting the virus but are not immune.
“Only the vaccine can assure immunity at the present time,” the bulletin states. “It would be wrong to blame someone for catching a cold and it is no different for COVID-19.”
The bulletin states COVID-19 vaccines for OKIB members are expected to begin arriving sometime in the first quarter of 2021, though quantities may be limited.
In the event of a positive case, the OKIB Health team collaborates with Interior Health to ensure containment by quarantine and to limit further spread through contact tracing. Those affected will be contacted by OKIB Health or Interior Health directly.
Band members with questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 can call 250-241-7595 to speak to an OKIB nurse Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. More information is available online at okib.ca/covid.