Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

“We have fared better than the rest of the population,”

Those were the words of the acting chief medical health officer of the First Nations Health Authority Dr. Shannon McDonald.

Today (Friday), McDonald, along with the BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed the COVID-19 impacts on Indigenous communities.

McDonald stated the numbers painted a pretty positive picture.

“From January 1st to June 14th of this year, 87 First Nations individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, there have been four deaths but right now, we only have three active cases.”

Of those 87 test-positive cases, 42 of those were on or near a reserve according to McDonald.

She also acknowledged the high-level of “buy-in” from leaders and community members, stating their hard work has paid off to this point.

“The sacrifices made, some of them very difficult and painful have paid off. The worst, which many anticipated and feared did not happen as the transmission of the virus within and between our communities was kept to a very small number.”

However, with BC now entering Phase 3 of its re-start plan, McDonald finished off by saying they can ill-afford to take their foot off the gas.

“This is no time to lower our guard even as the province transitions and begins to reopen to allow the gradual opening of schools, businesses, and travel. First nations continue to express concern about having non-residents on their territories.”

In addition, it was announced that testing will be expanded to anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19, with a focus on those living in remote communities.