Saskatchewan First Nation has presumptive case of COVID-19

The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) in northeastern Saskatchewan is dealing with a presumptive case of infectious COVID-19 in one of its eight communities.

The First Nation said the case was discovered in Southend, a community of 900 about 450 kilometres north of Prince Albert.

“Exposed persons have been notified and are being monitored by PBCN Health Services and public health officials from Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA),” the band said in a release Sunday evening.

“PBCN is following the direction of NITHA’s Medical Health Officer and working collaboratively with Indigenous Services Canada, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, its provincial ministries, and Prince Albert Grand Council.”

(A photo of Southend taken March 15.)

Details about the infected party weren’t disclosed in the release.

This brings the number of presumptive cases in Saskatchewan to six. There were more than 300 cases of the flu-like virus in Canada on Sunday.

PBCN is also known as Assin’skowitiniwak or Rocky Cree. Its eight communities are Amisk Lake. Deschaumbault Lake, Kinoosao, Pelican Narrows, Prince Albert, Sandy Bay, Southend and Sturgeon Landing.

First Nation members, employees and partner agencies were notified about the case via an official letter, the release added.

“Information packages about COVID-19 were delivered door-to-door,” it said, noting a pandemic preparedness plan was activated in all eight communities.

“A local radio call-in information session was provided by Chief Peter Beatty, two local councillors, and a PBCN Health Services Nurse on Saturday” afternoon.

Band administrators promised to continue delivering regular updates. They also said the school, health centres and band offices were being disinfected.

In the meantime, they said they were taking the following precautionary measures:

  • Closing schools for three weeks from March 16 – April 3
  • Continuing to provide essential services
  • Asking employees to work from home when possible
  • Postponing or cancelling community events
  • Permitting only essential travel

The band said “social distancing” was in effect, with a two-metre buffer in public spaces.



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