First Nations in Manitoba continue to be hit by outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic as the province moves into what is known as a critical level red zone.
As of Wednesday, there are 6,030 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 1,086 of them are among First Nations Peoples, 510 of those are on reserve and 576 are off reserve.
On Wednesday, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs announced four of the nine deaths reported in the province were First Nations. Two individuals on reserve and two off reserve.
It’s not clear which communities they were from.
The federal government has announced what they’re calling “surge capacity funding” for First Nations in the amount of $61 million, $38 million will go towards public health funds to assist all communities in their pandemic plans and $3 million will be allocated for direct help in personal care homes, including funding for additional staff and greater infection control prevention measures.
Another $8 million will go to communities with active cases on reserve for perimeter security, food security and surge capacity needs.
It’s unclear when that money is supposed to arrive but $9 million will be immediately available.
Minister Miller also added that over $3 million will help community infrastructure.
“In addition, Indigenous Services Canada will be mobilizing more surge infrastructure, including specialized mobile medical structures, contact tracers, medical and paramedical staff and equipment to assist in the fight, as well as work with the National Microbiology Laboratory and provincial health authorities to increase testing capacity and response time,” stated Minister Miller in a set of tweets Monday night.
Read More: APTN News coverage of COVID-19
Manitoba has seen over 2,500 cases of COVID-19 in the past week and more than 20 deaths in the last three days alone.
Thursday the province announced 474 new cases of the virus, the second highest single day total, and nine deaths, which equal the provincial record set on Wednesday.
Manitoba has seen a total of 132 deaths since the pandemic started.
Part of Manitoba being in the critical red zone are more strict regulations to try and combat the virus. That includes social gatherings of any kind no longer being allowed. Social contact is also restricted to members of your household only.
Non-essential retail stores, gyms, movie theatres, salons and churches will close. Those stores deemed essential must limit capacity to 25 per cent.
All recreational facilities and sports activities will be shut down, travel to northern Manitoba is restricted, and non-essential travel is discouraged.
Schools and child-care centres will remain open. The restrictions will be in effect for at least four weeks.
Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer says the measures may be tough, but they are needed.
“These are the most restrictive orders we’ve had to date in Manitoba. And it’s because we’re at a very critical juncture,” stated Dr. Brent Roussin in a COVID-19 presser.
“Our hospitals are nearing capacity, and so we need to ensure we’re stepping up now to reduce our contacts. We don’t need distractions now, distractions are harmful to Manitobans. The message is clear, stay home, only socialize within your household,” he said.