COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: What you need to know

A First Nation in southern Manitoba is taking precautionary measures against COVID-19 and waiting for the power to be set up at a recently purchased isolation trailer.

“We want to follow the protocols that were set forth,” said Sterling Catcheway, a band councillor at Skownan First Nation.

The First Nation, with a population of 500 to 700 people, located 290 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is still dealing with a small cluster of active coronavirus cases.

Skownan recently purchased a fully furnished, four-bedroom ready-to-move trailer unit that is expected to house people who test positive for COVID-19.

While cases continue to trend downward for First Nations in the country, communities like Skownan are still cautious and are sticking with public health measures such as community-wide mask mandates for the time being.

Indigenous Services Canada update

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) said that as of Wednesday, the department is aware of a total of 3,068 hospitalizations in First Nations communities due to COVID-19 and 686 deaths.

According to data from ISC, there were 2,384 active cases of COVID-19 reported in First Nations communities as of Thursday. This is down from 2,581 active cases reported as of March 16. Case numbers may, in fact, be higher as some provinces limit access to COVID-19 tests.

To date, ISC is aware of a total of 13,420 cases in First Nations communities due to the Omicron variant: 7,809 in Eastern Canada and 5,611 in Western Canada. A total of 134 First Nations have reported cases of the variant.

As of Tuesday, more than 88 per cent of individuals age 12 and older in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities have received a second COVID-19 vaccine dose while 29 per cent have received a third dose.

The Nunavut government said that as of Tuesday, there were 217 active cases of COVID-19 in 20 of its communities. 

To date, there have been 3,400 confirmed cases in Nunavut, 3,178 recovered cases and five deaths. Nunavut says 28,720 people have received at least two doses of the vaccine.

Total cumulative COVID-19 case numbers in First Nations per region:

  • British Columbia: 8,532

  • Alberta: 19,353

  • Saskatchewan: 15,690

  • Manitoba: 23,011

  • Ontario: 14,694

  • Quebec: 8,729

  • Atlantic: 3,145

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.

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting.

  • Feeling very unwell.

If you think you might have COVID-19, please consult your local health department.

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