FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Family members say they are worried and stressed now that it’s been confirmed Tracy Pacquette from the Blueberry River First Nation has COVID-19.
Pacquette’s brother, Sylvester Apsassin, said doctors confirmed on Wednesday evening that Tracy had COVID-19. It all started on April 1 when Tracy went to the Fort St. John Hospital because she was feeling ill. Doctors said she had kidney stones and a bladder infection. They sent her home with a prescription.
Then on April 5, Tracy went back to the hospital because she continued to feel ill. Doctors kept her overnight, and on Monday, April 6, they said they thought she might have COVID-19. They then transferred her to Prince George due to a lung infection while they awaited the results of her COVID-19 test.
Family members said Tracy didn’t exhibit any of the typical signs of COVID-19. The World Health Organization says symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, cough fever or difficulty breathing.
Tracy was in serious condition and was fighting for her life earlier. As of Thursday she remains in the ICU in Prince George but is now in stable condition.
According to Apsassin, no one knows how Tracy contracted COVID-19. She has not travelled outside the B.C. Peace.
Sylvester said, “We stayed away from going on trips and going to public places, and yet it hit home. It’s here. What do you do?”
Family members are very concerned for Tracy, and due to the nature of the disease, the family cannot travel to Prince George to be by her side and must remain in self-isolation on the Blueberry River First Nation.
Sylvester says, “You worry about her and not being by her side. The family is stressed that they can’t be by her side to show support.”
Tracy is now alone in Prince George to fight the disease. A local Facebook group has been started to show community support for Tracy and to share thoughts and prayers.
Pacquette did work at the Peace Villa Residential Care facility at the Fort St. John Hospital. It’s not clear when she worked her last shift.
Sylvester also expressed his concerns with how the Blueberry First Nation has been dealing with the threat of COVID-19. Three weeks ago, the Band ordered the community into lockdown, but according to Slyvester, there was no one monitoring roads in and out of the community until Thursday, April 9, 2020.
On Thursday, the Blueberry River First Nation announced new restrictions and told any community members that have come in contact with Tracy to remain in self-isolation.
Blueberry River First Nation Chief Marvin Yahey released the following statement. “Following the best available medical guidance, BRFN will take every measure possible to protect the community and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community and surrounding jurisdictions. We have been deploying our Pandemic Plan for several weeks. We are now taking more restrictive measures in light of the case that was confirmed today. We will be working with Provincial and Federal Health Officials, the RCMP, neighbouring jurisdictions, as well as our internal team to take a unified and coordinated approach to this issue which threatens our uniquely vulnerable community.”
Up until the family shared information about the diagnosis, it was not known if there were any cases in B.C. Peace. All Northern Health and the Province would say is how many cases there were in all of Northern B.C.
Northern Health and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have said they won’t release individual information about COVID-19 cases due to privacy concerns.
Dr. Henry released a letter earlier this week outlining why they aren’t sharing details of each case. “It would be irresponsible to mention only a few communities and give people outside those areas a false sense that they are not susceptible or at lower risk. Every health region in British Columbia has people with COVID-19. Every community and home town – no matter how large or small – is at risk.”
The letter goes onto say, “Public-health protocols also dictate that when the potential for transmission is unknown, we must immediately alert the public. From the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in B.C., we have been doing exactly that – alerting people to the risks within communities through regular briefings and connecting with individuals who are close contacts. When we cannot close the circle, we open the circle.”
As of Thursday, there were 34 new cases of the coronavirus in B.C., which brings the total cases to 1,370.
The Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says 50 people have since passed away from the virus, and while that many have passed away, complete recoveries are now up to 858.
Meanwhile, the number of cases in hospitals across the province is at 132, while 68 are in ICU.
Henry says the total cases in the Northern Health Region remains at 24.