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

A First Nation in southern Manitoba takes precautionary measures against COVID-19 and waits for power to be installed in a recently purchased isolation trailer.

“We want to follow the protocols that have been established,” said Skownan First Nation Band Councilor Sterling Catcheway.

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

Skownan recently purchased a fully furnished, ready-to-move-in four-bedroom trailer that should accommodate those who test positive for COVID-19.

As cases continue to decline for First Nations across the country, communities like Skownan are still cautious and sticking to public health measures such as community-wide mask mandates for now.

Update from Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) said 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 ISC data, 2,384 active cases of COVID-19 have been reported in First Nations communities as of Thursday. This is down from the 2,581 active cases reported as of March 16. The number of cases could actually be higher as some provinces limit access to COVID-19 testing.

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% of people aged 12 and older in First Nations, Inuit and Territorial communities have received a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 29% have received a third dose.

The Nunavut government said 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.

Cumulative total number of First Nations COVID-19 cases by 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 in breathing.

  • Temperature equal to or greater than 38 C.

  • Feeling feverish.

  • Chills.

  • Tiredness or weakness.

  • Muscle or body pain.

  • New loss of smell or taste.

  • Headache.

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting.

  • To feel very bad.

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

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