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On Monday, the Kahnawake COVID-19 Task Force announced that one of their own, Peacekeeper chief Dwayne Zacharie, tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating at home.
Zacharie told The Eastern Door that it all started with a headache on December 28.
“On Tuesday morning (December 29), when I woke up, I felt even worse,” said Zacharie.
“I had a headache and body aches, and I immediately called the hospital (Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre), and they gave me an appointment for the next morning to get tested,” he said.
The chief Peacekeeper started isolating on the 29th out of caution, he said.
“I got tested on December 30th, and the result came back the next day. It was a bit of a shock to me,” said Zacharie.
Since receiving his positive result, Zacharie recounted that he has been working closely with local Public Health and has been following all of their safety measures and recommendations.
He said that he has also been diligent about disclosing all of his contacts to Public Health in order for them to do contact tracing.
However, they have not been able to determine where Zacharie might have caught the virus.
“From what I understand, from my conversations with Public Health, it looks like it is community transmission.
“It could have happened grocery shopping or something like that because I have not been gathering or meeting with people. I follow the rule really closely. The distancing, the masking, and the hygiene,” he said.
The chief Peacekeeper said that he experienced a number of different symptoms that would come and go, including headaches and loss of smell, but what really took a toll was the “intense” body aches.
Luckily, he never experienced any real cough or fever, he said.
In terms of his duties as chief Peacekeeper, Zacharie continued to work from home even as he battled the virus.
“I have a really great team working at the Peacekeeper station. The assistant chief ( ody Diabo) helps me out a great deal, so she filled in where she has to,” said Zacharie.
When Zacharie informed the Task Force that he was COVID-19 positive, they were also extremely shocked.
“Everybody at the Task Force knows how much I follow the rules. So, they were pretty surprised, but it goes to show that anybody can get it,” he said.
According to the Task Force press release, no other member has experienced signs or symptoms of the virus or had been in contact with Zacharie during his contagious period.
But after news started to circulate around the community about the chief Peacekeeper’s positive result, accusations of negligence and reckless endangerment were made against him from someone who alleged that Zacharie did not disclose his positive result to the family, and in turn, possibly infected his own granddaughter.
Kathy Skye, the grandmother of Zacharie’s eight-year-old granddaughter, told The Eastern Door that neither her daughter nor her family were trying to shame Zacharie for contracting COVID-19.
“We do know, however, that full disclosure, communication and transparency are vital to the prevention of further cases of COVID-19. We’ve seen all the statements, heard the radio interviews and beg to differ with the information that was provided,” said Skye.
According to Skye, her granddaughter visited the home of the chief Peacekeeper with her father (Zacharie’s son) December 28-30.
Skye said that anybody contemplating getting tested should know that they have the potential to infect others, which is why they must disclose if they have symptoms.
“My granddaughter returned home, incubating the COVID-19 virus on December 30th and subsequently infected other members of the household in her primary bubble.
“How can we protect our family members from a deadly virus without pertinent, vital information? An omission of information from a family member which could lead to a death is not acceptable. It is not an error of judgement, nor is it poor judgement. It is a gross error which amounts to blatant negligence,” continued Skye.
According to Skye, her granddaughter was never listed as a possible contact.
“If you cannot proactively provide critical information for your own family member, then managing a community comes into question. Incidentally, we still have had no communication come forth, up to this point, from Mr. Dwayne Zacharie,” she said on Tuesday.
Skye said the Task Force has reached out to her family and that general manager of Public Safety Robyn Montour has inquired about the events that took place.
“Needless to say, it is very difficult to watch family members suffer when all could have been prevented with respectful dialogue and admittance of the possibilities,” said Skye.
However, Zacharie denied any wrongdoing and said that he was disappointed by what people were saying because he took all of the appropriate steps required of him.
“I would never do anything to jeopardize anyone’s life or safety, and my whole life, I have dedicated myself to the safety and security of this community,” said Zacharie.
The chief Peacekeeper said he understands that people are angry and upset but stressed that we still don’t know exactly how the virus moves.
“I am doing everything I can to mitigate its effects, and I am certain that I didn’t do anything outside of what was allowed for me to do,’ he continued.
As of this past Monday, Zacharie no longer had any symptoms, and his isolation period ended yesterday (Thursday).