Manitoba First Nations using rapid COVID-19 tests to screen travellers

WINNIPEG — Four Manitoba First Nations are implementing rapid COVID-19 testing to screen essential travellers before they are allowed to enter the community.

Garden Hill, Red Sucker Lake, St. Theresa Point and Wasagamak First Nation, also known as the four island lake communities, have acquired 1,000 rapid COVID-19 tests.

“Indigenous people know the healthcare system isn’t able to respond as quickly as needed, said Elvin Flett, chairman of Four Arrows Regional Health Authority, in a news release. It is very important we increase our own capacity to fight COVID wherever possible to improve the health of our people.”

The communities also acquired two digital analyzers for COVID-19 tests. With the new analyzers, the communities can get COVID-19 test results without shipping them out to external labs.

“This is a huge step forward for our membership,” said Chef Dino Flett in the release. “Being able to do our own tests quickly means we can slow the spread of COVID, save lives, reduce stress and cut substantial costs to the health care system.”

The tests and new equipment resulted from a joint effort between Four Arrows Regional Health Authority and Indigenous Canadian Medical Dispensaries.

So far, COVID-19 has disproportionally affected the Indigenous population.

On Thursday, the federal government sent additional military aid to Red Sucker Lake after more than two dozen people contracted the virus.

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