COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Manitoba First Nations

WINNIPEG — As the pandemic rages on cases are growing in First Nations around the province.

Since March a First Nation community has been under a state of emergency said Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches

“It’s been seven months now and I think we are witnessing a second wave of COVID-19 and for many people including myself we expected eventually that this would seep into the community,” said Meeches.

Meeches added he learned about the cases in his community late Wednesday afternoon.

“Right now, it’s all isolated to one home right now. These would be the first confirmed cases in Long Plain Keeshkeemaquah.”

He said most likely the virus was contracted through community transmission and stresses the importance of following health guidelines.

“To reassure people that we are taking all the necessary steps we need to take to protect the safety of the public. And also we do have a pandemic coordinator. He’s advising our council.”

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Arlen Dumas is alarmed by the rise in the number of cases across the province.

“There’s quite a few communities now that are COVID positive and we really need our community members to be safe. I know its been a long frustrating time but we got to maintain that vigilance we have been doing all these months,” said Dumas.

He said the AMC is working with a number of agencies to support the communities and are taking to social media to help keep communication flowing

“The reason why we needed to do that was we wanted to make sure we created an area where we could provide information to people quickly it was creditable its vetted information.”

Jason Small, spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross said along with anti-COVID spreading and PPE training within communities, they help people who might not be able to isolate in their community.

“We’ve been asked to help provide support to supplement the existing capacity in Winnipeg for supporting people who need to be isolated but are unable to do so at their home and in their home community. So there’s been some people from First Nations that have been transported from the community, they stay in a hotel and have the full support of our team,” said Small.

He said the organization will provide advice and access to healthcare when needed.

Dumas hopes people will join the Facebook live feed Friday at noon on the AMC’s Facebook page for more information on First Nation COVID updates. 

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