Kahnawake confirms first case of COVID-19

Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre Executive Director Lisa Westaway assured community members Wednesday that the

Just hours after live-streaming their update of the day, members of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s COVID-19 Task Force returned to publicly confirm a first diagnosis in the community.

In an emergency briefing held Wednesday evening, officials confirmed that a doctor working at Kateri Memorial Hospital tested positive for this virus this afternoon.

The physician only recently began exhibiting symptoms after working in NYC earlier this month.

However, Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre Executive Director Lisa Westaway assured community members there is “good news” about the case.

The woman in question opted to cancel clinics and self-isolate when her husband began showing symptoms – and before possibly exposing anyone else.

“After speaking with Public Health, we have confirmation that the virus is only contagious 24-48 hours before exhibiting symptoms,” Westaway said. “Therefore there is absolutely no need for contact tracing, by public health or KMHC, there is no risk to our population, nor to our patients, nor to our nurses and other physicians and/or residents.”

“Everybody is okay,” she added.

Council representatives took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of self-isolating for 14 days after returning from travel outside Quebec.

Just yesterday, Mohawk ironworkers in NYC were ordered to either return to Kahnawake immediately and self-isolate, or stay put until the virus is less of a public threat.

Another community-issued press release urged parents to stop bringing their children to playgrounds.

Kahnawake’s schools, restaurants, bingo halls, daycares, and arenas all remain closed indefinitely.

“This is not a joke – the way that we’re preparing is to limit contact as much as possible. Let’s take this case for an example,” Westaway said.

“The virus will come to Kahnawake, we don’t want people to panic or be alarmed – we just want to be prepared.”

Commissioner of Public Safety, Lloyd Phillips, said there’s no need to take additional measures in the community at this time.

“Quebec is ramping up its testing clinics throughout the province and the region,” he explained. “Thing is, it doesn’t matter who does the testing – you have to send that to the appropriate people to analyze it and do the proper lab work to find out if it’s negative or positive.”

“We don’t have those facilities here in the community,” Phillips added.

Earlier in the day, Premier Francois Legault confirmed Quebec’s first death from COVID-19.

The elderly woman from the Lanaudiere region did not contract the virus from travelling, but likely came in contact with someone who did, Legault said.

Again, he reiterated the importance of following directives from health officials by limiting social contact, maintaining a distance of 2 meters or more between people, and continuing to wash hands at regular intervals.

“I think it’s too bad that we have to have a proof, but we have a proof today of the importance of doing so,” Legault said at the day’s press briefing.

“We think this person has met somebody who’s travelled. So it’s very dangerous,” he added.

According to Sante Quebec, as of 8 p.m., there are 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 province-wide. Just over 3600 more are awaiting test results.

Reporter / Montreal

Lindsay was born and raised on the unceded territory of Tiohtià:ke (Montréal), and joined APTN News as a Quebec correspondent in 2019. While in university, she collaborated on a multiplatform project about the revitalization of the Kanien’kéha (Mohawk) language to commemorate the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Before APTN Lindsay worked at the Eastern Door, CTV Montreal and the Montreal Gazette.