At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, before approved vaccines were available, there was a high risk of transmitting the disease to family, friends and co-workers. For individuals testing positive for COVID-19, a 14-day isolation period was required to protect the people around them from also becoming ill. Accessing food and, in some instances, a place to safely isolate, were needs expressed by many communities. In response, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) created isolation supports to help cover some of these associated costs.
Since that time, circumstances surrounding the pandemic have changed greatly. We now have Health Canada-approved vaccines for all British Columbians aged six months and older. Vaccination uptake has been strong among First Nations with 79.8 per cent of Status and Status eligible First Nations who are five years of age and older receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 73.5 per cent having received at least two doses. Not only do we have doses 1 and 2 available to anyone who chooses to be immunized, there are booster doses to maintain high levels of protection.
Given the high transmission of the virus to date, strong uptake of vaccinations, and the anticipation that COVID-19 will become endemic—meaning it will continue to circulate and infect small portions of the population on an ongoing basis—effective Oct. 17, 2022 the FNHA will evolve COVID-19 isolation supports to be available only in instances where this type of support is deemed medically necessary.
As such, a medical note will be required from a physician or community health nurse confirming that the patient has tested positive for COVID-19 and that there is a medical need to access isolation supports. This support will be available up to a maximum of five days following a positive test or the onset of symptoms. More information on the pathway to access this support can be found in our recently updated FNHA COVID-19 Support Guide.
The COVID-19 Support Guide also details additional supports available to assist in you or your community's COVID-19 communicable disease emergencies planning, testing, vaccination efforts and human resource surge capacity.
The FNHA is grateful to be your health and wellness partner and to hold up the good work happening in communities. The resilience and innovation demonstrated by First Nations individuals, families and communities over these last few years has been nothing short of remarkable. We look forward to continuing to support your efforts.