PIB reports COVID cluster ending, reopening facilities after long weekend

PIB says cluster is over

After the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) shut down its services after an exposure of COVID-19 occurred in their community, the communications department released a statement on Friday that the cluster and its incubation period within the PIB will be over this weekend.

“The Penticton Indian Band Health Department has completed 171 tests over 16 days is confident the cluster has been effectively addressed,” the press release reads.

A positive case was first detected COVID-19 in the community on Jan. 27 and over the next five days the number grew to 13.

The Band’s Emergency Operations Center, led by Director and CAO, Joe Johnson closed Administrative buildings, including Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School and LittlePaws Daycare for a period of two weeks in a decision to stop the spread when the cases neared ten.

“It was PIB Health’s objective to reduce and prevent further COVID-19 transmission within community. Following Provincial guidelines, it was in the best interest of the community to be advised of the provincial restrictions that can help to interrupt the spread of COVID-19. It was determined that it would be most impactful to have support from PIB Leadership to deliver those strong messages to community – which was to not visit and not to accept visitors into homes and to leave home only for essential purposes. PIB Health acknowledges and thanks the guidance and support from PIB Leadership,” Evening-Star Casimir, the PIB’s Associate Health Manager said in a press release.

The statement added that the Chief and Council released daily updates through social media, the webpage and email to ensure the community members were all informed of any changes with COVID-19 and daily numbers of test results returned.

The focus for the leaders was to continue to provide information on services that were put in place to support the members in staying home and staying healthy.

“Regrettably through and in addition to all this anguish our community were dealing with, our Band Membership were quickly disheartened when reports were received from a number of our community members who experienced discriminatory behaviour from local businesses and service providers,” PIB Chief Greg Gabriel said.

“Our Council had no doubt in the ability of our Health and EOC Team and had the utmost confidence in their ability to keep the COVID-19 spread under control. It is a sad thing to witness that there are a few people with the mindset that all members of the Penticton Band may have COVID-19.” Commented Chief Greg Gabriel of the Penticton Indian Band.”

An online Band Meeting also was held to keep communication open to be heard and engage with leaders, adding this was key in helping the members cooperate with recommendations to stay home unless necessary.

"We would like to applaud the PIB health team for their quick and thorough efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. We fully support their COVID-19 response and will continue to work closely together to monitor any future transmission that may occur," Dr. Sue Pollock, Interior Health medical health officer said in the press release.

"We remind everyone in the broader South Okanagan community to be kind to one another. We support people in self-isolation when they test positive for COVID-19; please do not judge or discriminate against healthy individuals while they conduct essential activities in the community."

The COVID-19 cluster and its incubation period within the PIB will be over this weekend. All facilities are scheduled to resume operations on Tuesday, after the Family Day holiday, according to the release.

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