Family of 7 tests positive for COVID-19 on northern Manitoba First Nation

A family of seven from York Factory First Nation in northern Manitoba has tested positive for COVID-19 — after a trip to Winnipeg.

The cases are the first in the community, about 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg, said Chief Leroy Constant.

He told CBC News he first learned of the rapid test results on Thursday and the Cadham Provincial Lab confirmed the positive results Sunday.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of fear. First and foremost, people are a bit of a panic mode where we we do our best to ensure that we’ve contained it,” Constant said.

“We will continue to do our best, day to day as we are faced with this pandemic.”

Constant says the family was exposed to the virus when one member travelled to Winnipeg for medical care.

“It is not their fault they came into contact with a positive case. It’s not our fault we don’t have adequate health care in the north. Our people are forced to seek this urgent medical help. It’s a matter of life and death,” he posted on Facebook to community members Sunday night.

Constant said the First Nation has sought the help of the Northern Pandemic Response Committee and will implement rapid testing for community members who show symptoms or are close contacts of the family. The community is locked down but working to get more nurses deployed there.

The family is self-isolating in a nearby hotel and community members are doing their best to ensure they’re cared for, Constant said.

“We’re monitoring them, we’re making sure that they’re they’re taken care of. We have donations coming in for the family as well as food hampers,” he said. 

According to provincial data, there are four active cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Health region, but Constant said those statistics don’t yet reflect the cases in his community.

Indigenous Services Canada data shows there are eight cases of COVID-19 on First Nations in Manitoba.

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