Making sense of increased COVID-19 cases and renewed public health measures


​A message from Dr. Nel Wieman, Acting Deputy ​Chief Medical Officer​​​​​​​​​

​​​​The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for a long time and has had its share of twists and turns. By now, we all know that COVID-19 cases are increasing again.

Just when we were starting to breathe (mask-less) sighs of relief that the COVID-19 pandemic was winding down, cases began rising again and public health measures were reinstated in BC. What's more, COVID-19 vaccine cards will now be required for many venues.

News of rising cases and additional measures being put in place has caused many of us to feel disappointed, worried, and/or frustrated. We hoped the progress we were making was here to stay. At the same time, some First Nations people may also feel some relief about the reinstatement, having seen increasing cases amongst friends, family members, and communities.

However we may feel, we know that if we want the pandemic to end, we will have to set aside our disappointment, square our shoulders, and continue working together against it. Right now, taking a step back to regain our footing against the virus is the best thing we can do to get new case numbers down – and get back to safely connecting with others.

At the FNHA, we are of course following the Provincial Health Officer's renewed mandate, including wearing masks indoors even if fully (two shots + 14 days) vaccinated.

The good news is that First Nations in BC have shown remarkable strength and resilience, drawing on culture and traditions, and finding new ways to connect and support each other. First Nations community leaders, health directors and others have worked hard to get the vaccine to their communities.

First Nations individuals have promoted vaccination by sharing their own reasons for getting vaccinated, and listened with patience and compassion to friends and family who are not yet confident enough to get one, or helped them find the answers they needed in order to potentially reconsider their opinion. Others have provided babysitting services or provided a lift to a friend who couldn't otherwise get to a vaccine appointment. It has been wonderful to see how we are helping each other get through this hard time together.

The COVID-19 virus, however, has proven itself to be stealthy. It is still spreading among people who may not show any symptoms, and the virus has been able to find pockets of people who are unvaccinated. And while we have a high overall vaccination rate in the province, the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads faster and more easily than previous variants, feeding the increase in cases. It also causes more severe infection, leading to increased hospitalizations and deaths.

Fortunately, we know how to fight COVID-19 and its variants. The strategies we have been using to overcome the pandemic continue to be our tried-and-true best protection:

  • Get fully vaccinated (two shots + 14 days). The evidence shows that doing so protects most people from COVID-19, and also prevents severe illness, hospitalization and death in the few (less than one percent) fully vaccinated people who do get it. We'll soon to providing more information on COVID-19 infections that “break through" vaccination. The bottom line is that the more people get vaccinated, the safer we all are, i.e., “community immunity" is achieved.
  • Wear a mask when indoors. Even wear one outdoors if you can't stay six feet away from people outside your household.
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  • Avoid large gatherings, and crowded indoor spaces.
  • Stay at home and isolate when sick.
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if you're fully vaccinated. A high proportion of tests for First Nations people in BC are coming back positive, meaning the virus is spreading in places we may not be aware of.
  • Stay strong by taking care of your mental health and wellness (see our resources at this link).

Although this pandemic is going on for a lot longer than we initially thought, and it feels as if things are out of our control, let's encourage ourselves by keeping in mind that we DO have a measure of control. By continuing to use the strategies above, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones, including our young children and others who cannot yet be vaccinated. Stay safe, strong and connected. We can and will do this, together.​

Download this information in PDF format here​.

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