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

School District 27 (SD27) issued notice Thursday, Feb. 25 of a COVID-19 exposure at Mountview Elementary School. (Angie Mindus photo)
School district reports positive COVID-19 case in Williams Lake elementary school

A letter went home to families of Mountview Elementary School

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City of Williams Lake seeks feedback on hosting junior hockey league team

A league expansion application in Quesnel is also pending

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

LADDER USED IN FIRE FIGHT: While smoke billows out of the second floor of the Maple Leaf Hotel, members of the Williams Lake Volunteer Fire Department fight to contain the blaze. The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze that wreaked havoc on the interior of the 57-year-old hotel. One man, Harold Hurst of Riske Creek, died in the fire. (Ernest Engemoen photo - Williams Lake Tribune, April 12, 1977)
FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Ladder used in fire fight

The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read