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First Nation in Northern Manitoba Dealing with COVID-19 Outbreak, Shuts Down School

October 15, 2021 1:47 PM | The Canadian Press

By The Canadian Press


This electron microscope image made available and colour-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., in 2020, shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. (NIAID/National Institutes of Health via AP)

NORWAY HOUSE CREE NATION — A First Nation in northern Manitoba is experiencing its first outbreak of COVID-19 as the province deals with the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Norway House Cree Nation, located about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg, has had a recent surge in cases, which it says originated from outside the community in early September.

Chief Larson Anderson said that as of Tuesday there were 84 active cases and 87 recovered cases in the community. One member also died after contracting the virus.

He added that most of the cases were of people who are fully vaccinated, as well as children and adults aged 20 to 29 and 40 to 49.

The community has shut down its school to prevent further spread of the virus.

A statement from the First Nation said half of its cases are from household contacts.

“Overcrowded homes, lack of proper heat and ventilation, inadequate washrooms and healthy space for families are contributing to the pandemic emergency,” said Anderson.

Norway House has about 7,500 members living on the reserve, according to its website.

At the start of the pandemic, it developed its own pandemic response gauge, said the statement.

The First Nation is at a critical stage in its pandemic response, it said, with staff working to contain case numbers with contact tracing, testing and isolation and a community-wide lockdown.

Manitoba’s First Nations pandemic response team said this week it is seeing an upswing in new cases in First Nations people.

On Wednesday, the team reported 31 new cases and on Thursday it reported 55.

There were 963 active cases of the virus in the province as of Friday, with First Nations people accounting for about 520 of those cases.

“The concern with this virus, and particularly the Delta variant, is how easily and quickly it can spread, which leads to that kind of exponential growth,” Dr. Marcia Anderson, medical lead with the team, said during a livestream Thursday.

She said there are active cases in about 17 First Nations communities in the province.

— By Brittany Hobson in Winnipeg

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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