COVID-19 cluster identified at Esk’etemc First Nation at Alkali Lake

Esk’etemc First Nation is under community-wide isolation after a COVID-19 cluster has been confirmed. (Jonathan Hand photo)Esk’etemc First Nation is under community-wide isolation after a COVID-19 cluster has been confirmed. (Jonathan Hand photo)
(Esk’etemc News Facebook photo)(Esk’etemc News Facebook photo)
Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) First Nation Chief Fred Robbins. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Esk’etemc (Alkali Lake) First Nation Chief Fred Robbins. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Esk’etemc First Nation at Alkali Lake is taking action to further protect its community after a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases was identified.

Checkpoints are active at the Indigenous community 50 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake at Esk’et (Alkali Lake) Jan. 14 where Sxoxomic Community School remains closed.

The band office is also closed to the public, and most staff, including Chief Fred Robbins are working from home.

Robbins isolated himself out of fear for his wife, who had a kidney transplant six years ago.

“We’re still swabbing a lot of community members,” Robbins said Wednesday evening (Jan. 13) from his home in Esk’et.

So far 18 positive cases had been confirmed with more expected as test results are still unknown for 51 of the 97 swabs collected.

Read More: B.C. records 519 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday

The first COVID-19 case in the tight-knit community of 650 members in 135 homes was identified earlier this month.

Esk’etemc First Nation entered a two-week precautionary lockdown last year, in March 2020, and was the first Indigenous community in B.C. to do so, Robbins said.

“It helped us prepare for today, so we’re better prepared for the situation we are in now, I believe.”

Esketemc First Nation is currently under community-wide isolation.

Robbins said if there are more cases, they will consider lockdown and seek essential services support from the First Nations Health Authority, Secwepemc Health Caucus and Interior Health (IH).

Read More: COVID-19 cases climb to 25 in Bella Coola

“We’ve always followed the provincial regulations and recommendations put forward by Dr. Bonnie Henry, and that’s what I’ve been telling our community for a year now,” he said.

The nearest hospital is a 50-minute drive to Williams Lake where an outbreak was declared Jan. 13 with four Cariboo Memorial Hospital staff members testing positive.

Robbins said they were making arrangements with IH to provide them with cohorts in Williams Lake so positive or non-positive members could be closer to the hospital for medical attention, or their loved ones.

The chief doesn’t know yet when Esketemc First Nation will receive vaccines.

In the South Cariboo near 100 Mile House, Canim Lake Band Chief Helen Henderson cheered when the first two Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in their community Thursday morning, Jan. 14.

Read More: COVID-19 vaccine rolled out to Canim Lake Band, as positive case numbers rise to 52

Tsq'escen' Kukpi7 Helen Henderson reports on an historic day for the community.

Posted by NStQ Treaty Group on Thursday, January 14, 2021

“I’m so proud of you,” Henderson said of elder Elsie Archie and community health nurse and emergency operations centre (EOC) commander Tamara White-Feather.

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Indigenous community east of 100 Mile House on Jan. 11 after 32 confirmed cases had been identified.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 13 that number had risen to 52.

“It was critical for us to advocate for vaccinations to stop this outbreak,” Henderson said, noting 350 vaccines would be available for Indigenous and non-Indigenous 18 years and older living in Canim Lake.

“With the vaccine, we see light after a very few dark days,” she said.

Robbins said Esk’etemc First Nation health staff would be making recommendations for their emergency operations centre to put together a pandemic kit for every household.

“Do everything that you possibly can to keep the contact with your family so you can reassure them that you’re OK,” he said.

Read More: B.C. considers provincial COVID-19 bubble as visitors come in

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The driver of this truck received minor injuries after it careened off the highway. (Quesnel RCMP Photo)
Semi-truck crashes down 200-foot embankment off Highway 97

The truck also spilled diesel fuel into Cuisson Creek

Operating Room nurse Tammy Solecki, Clinical Practice Leader Joanne George, and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Van Zyl, stand alongside new equipment G.R. Baker’s shoulder surgery extension. (Submitted photo)
Shoulder surgery upgrades live at Quesnel hospital

The $200,000 program could support nearly 100 surgeries a year at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital

The trek was made without spectators on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2021. Organizers are planning a second run for February, when they hope public health restrictions are lifted. (Tammy Raynor - Submitted Photo)
As mushers deliver, sled dog mail run organizers announce second event

The dogs made the trip from Quesnel to Barkerville, delivering envelopes of mail for Canada Post

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

The location of the proposed Telus cell tower is at the red pin. (Google Maps)
Telus proposes Wells cell tower

The project is available for public comment until March 1

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

The fine for changing lanes or merging over a solid line costs drivers $109 and two penalty points in B.C. (Screenshot via Google Street View)
B.C. drivers caught crossing, merging over solid white lines face hefty fine

Ticket for $109, two penalty points issued under Motor Vehicle Act for crossing solid lines

Most Read