COVID-19: Indigenous communities in B.C. report low virus transmission rate

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The number of COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities in B.C. has been low compared with the general population in the province, health officials noted Friday.

Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer for the First Nations Health Authority, said that since Jan. 1 there have been 87 confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 5,500 tests among Indigenous people. Of those, 42 live on or near reserves.

There have been four deaths in the Indigenous communities, and there are currently only three active cases.

McDonald credits the low rate of transmission to early measures taken by First Nations, which included lockdowns, cancelling gatherings and closing the communities to outside visitors except for essential services.

Food security, isolation and mental health issues such as depression, loneliness and anxiety are ongoing challenges in these communities, she said at a news conference Friday.

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