November 13, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

The week of November 1-7 continued to see an increase in the number of newly reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities related to the “second wave” of the pandemic, with 439 new cases reported as of November 12.

As of November 12, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for provincial First Nations communities on reserve:

  • 2253 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
  • 892 active cases
  • 1344 recovered cases
  • 17 deaths

There are a total of 28 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all have recovered.

The majority of the increases continue to be linked to large private and public gatherings in settings where physical distancing and wearing of masks were not observed. Gatherings where public health guidelines are not respected can quickly lead to a rapid spread of the virus, as we have seen in Saskatchewan in the last few weeks, where one event led to 11 outbreaks across the province.

As well, we are paying close attention to the current outbreaks in Manitoba and have been in close communication with community leadership and the province. We are actively working with communities and leadership to ensure necessary resources are in place to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19, and stand ready to deploy additional resources as required.

On November 10, 2020 the Government of Canada in partnership with Manitoba First Nations announced it is providing $61.4 million in immediate funding to support their response to the pandemic in a number of areas. Immediate support will be provided for public health activities, measures in personal care homes, targeted assistance for communities with multiple COVID-19 cases, and community adaptation funding. ISC will also take immediate measures to deploy an additional 12 temporary structures and three drive-through testing sites to Manitoba First Nations in support. We will also provide additional support for contact tracing, and will partner with the Province of Manitoba and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory to support rapid testing.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country we have seen cases rising and it is at this time we must continue to follow the public health measures that save lives. Individuals should continue to be careful and follow the advice of public health experts. The more cases there are in a community, the greater the opportunity for the virus to be introduced into workplaces, schools and at risk settings, like long-term care centres.

Use the following public health practices to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus:

  • Properly wear a mask or face covering when in public or around those at risk, especially when it is hard to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres apart.
  • Limit contact to the same small circle of people and practice physical distancing with those outside of the household.
  • Create a supportive environment for people who are isolating to take care of their mental health, and minimize the stress and hardship associated with isolation.
  • Wash hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds.

Moreover, everyone should familiarize themselves with the additional recommended public health guidelines outlined by their province or territory of residence, and/or by their community leadership. They are also encouraged to share the advice of public health experts, such as from the Public Health Agency of Canada, so that their friends and families are also well informed.

It’s also important to get tested if you have symptoms and to encourage and support family, friends and coworkers to do so as well.

The COVID Alert app is an additional tool to protect yourself and your loved ones. COVID Alert is Canada’s free exposure notification app that helps break the cycle of infection by letting app users know of possible exposures before any symptoms appear. The COVID Alert app can be used to report a COVID-19 diagnosis if you’re in one of the following provinces: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador.

As a reminder, applications are now open for needs-based funding through the Indigenous Community Support Fund. Funding is available for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities as well as Indigenous organizations serving Indigenous people in urban centres & off reserves.

We urge everyone to help bend the curve by making wise decisions and following recommended public health measures. 

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Author: Editor
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