COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: new and active cases increase

October 28, 2020
COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: new and active cases increase

In the last week, 214 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on First Nations reserves, according to data from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

The majority of new cases occurred in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, where a surge of cases has been reported since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic. Most recently, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority in Saskatchewan reported an outbreak in Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.

There are a total of 362 active cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves across Canada as of Oct. 26 according to ISC, and there have been a total of 1,254 cases on-reserve since the pandemic started.

One additional hospitalization was reported since last week bringing the total to 73. One new death was also reported, bringing the toll to 15. A total of 877 First Nations people have recovered from the disease.

In an Oct. 22 update, ISC said the growing number of new and active cases continue to be linked to larger private and public gatherings held in settings where public health measures like physical distancing and wearing of masks were not observed.  

As of Oct. 22, there are a total of 25 confirmed positive cases in the Nunavik region of Quebec, with five remaining active.

Total cases on First Nations reserves per region reported as of Oct. 26:

  • British Columbia: 181
  • Alberta: 426
  • Saskatchewan: 254
  • Manitoba: 174
  • Ontario: 153
  • Quebec: 66

Pandemic stories

The Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority in Saskatchewan warned of a possible COVID-19 exposure at the Sturgeon Lake First Nation health centre on Saturday. Sturgeon Lake is the latest First Nation to be added to the list of community outbreaks in Saskatchewan, which now include Red Earth Cree Nation, Stanley Mission and Southend.

Alberta researchers are looking at flying drones to remote Indigenous communities for COVID-19 and other medical help. The University of Calgary, SAIT, Alberta Health and other agencies have partnered with the Stoney Nakoda Nation to finesse flight plans and procedures.

Nearly a third of First Nations in Manitoba have reported COVID-19 cases, according to the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, which partners with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to gather COVID-19 data about First Nations.

The Cree health board in northern Quebec has teamed up with the Canadian Red Cross to build a temporary elders home — or Emergency Response Unit (ERU) — in a banquet hall in Chisasibi, Que. The hope is the ERU will give 12 elders back their freedom and quality of life, but also keep them safe from the risks of COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • temperature equal to or over 38°C
  • feeling feverish
  • chills
  • fatigue or weakness
  • muscle or body aches
  • new loss of smell or taste
  • headache
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
  • feeling very unwell

If you think you may have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic. 

CBC Indigenous is looking to hear from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have contracted COVID-19. If you would like to share your experience, please email us at [email protected]

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