Politicians concerned about more COVID-19 cases on Manitoba reserves

Numbers climbing in Alberta FNs, too.

Employees with the Canadian Red Cross arrive in Little Grand Rapids. Facebook

A northern Manitoba First Nation is in lockdown with more than 30 positive cases of COVID-19.

Little Grand Rapids is operating under a Code Red on the provincial pandemic response system with the most cases in a First Nation in the province, officials confirmed Tuesday.

It is one of nine First Nations in Manitoba with confirmed cases of the infectious virus.

“We are seeing a large cluster of cases with connections across communities related to traveling and visiting family, among other things,” said Dr. Marcia Anderson, a member of the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team.

“We also know that people often come to Winnipeg for a variety of reasons including visiting, shopping, and entertainment.”

Marcia Anderson is a medical doctor in Winnipeg. Facebook

Manitoba announced 124 new novel coronavirus cases on Tuesday and revealed the bulk – 95 – are in the capital city of Winnipeg. To date, the Prairie province has recorded 2,779 confirmed cases and 35 deaths.

Additionally, a Code Red was declared at Headingley Correctional Centre just west of Winnipeg, provincial health confirmed Tuesday.

But what has politicians the most worried is the 61 cases among Manitoba’s 63 First Nations reported Oct.9, where healthcare is nowhere near the standard found off-reserve.

“Several First Nations have now had their first confirmed cases of COVID in their communities,” said Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO).

“We encourage all MKO citizens to follow the advice of their leadership and public health officials.”

An explainer of Manitoba’s pandemic response levels. Manitoba Health

Emergency workers with the Canadian Red Cross were flown into the remote community of Little Grand Rapids northeast of Winnipeg, which is only accessible by plane, over the long weekend.

The community of about 800 is operating under a public health order to restrict travel, close all but essential businesses, and mandatory mask-wearing to help stop the spread. No public gatherings were permitted.

“People who are not following the orders can be ticketed/ fined,” warned a community bulletin.

“We All need to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Stay Home & Stay Safe.”

Settee encouraged people to limit their travel to Winnipeg for all but essential reasons.

Tips on proper ways to wear a non-medical mask. Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response 

There was some good news from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation or York Factory after a scare last week when seven cases were diagnosed in one family.

All “members of a family in York Landing who contracted COVID-19 after one of them went to Winnipeg for a medical appointment are now considered recovered,” said Chief Leroy Constant.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said rapid response tests were enroute to all provinces and territories.

He said people in the northeastern Ontario First Nations of Kasabonika and Pikangikum would find employees from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg on the ground handing out testing kits.

“It is vital that these communities with cases of COVID-19 have the necessary testing capacity to control the spread of the virus and keep people safe,” he said during his morning briefing live-streamed on APTN News.

In Alberta, the four bands that comprise Maskwacis – Samson Cree, Ermineskin Cree, Louis Bull Tribe and Montana First Nation – reported 26 active cases.

Of those, 12 patients had recovered and one was hospitalized.

Editor’s note: This story was updated 14/10/20 to correct the headline and add the date data was released.

 

Investigative Reporter / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.