Pimicikamak under lockdown after 11 positive COVID-19 tests

A northern Manitoba First Nation is under lockdown as a team of nurses works to track down additional cases of COVID-19.

Pimicikamak, also known as Cross Lake Cree Nation, located about 530 km north of Winnipeg, was moved to the critical red level on Manitoba’s pandemic response system after multiple people tested positive, the province announced Tuesday.

Cases are linked to a funeral attended by someone who didn’t have symptoms but later tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said.

As of right now there are 11 confirmed active cases, but they expect there may be more, according Pimicikamak Chief David Monias.

“We suspect it started off with one person, who either went to Thompson for medical [services], or a person that came from The Pas area for a funeral or wake services,” Monias said. “But we’re not 100 per cent sure.”

No one allowed in or out of community

Pimicikamak leadership knew that if COVID-19 arrived, there would be dealing with a high number of potential exposures, because of housing issues in his community, including overcrowding.

A rapid response team with nurses arrived on Sunday and Monday to test community members who may have been contacts to the cases, he said.

While testing is completed, no one will be allowed in or out of the community, except for the delivery of necessities like food, fuel, and medical supplies.

“We’ve shut down just about everything,” Monias said. “Only essential businesses are open.”

Daycares and schools are also closed, and only one person per home is allowed to do grocery shopping, according to a post on the First Nation’s Facebook page.

Only essential employees are allowed to move throughout the community, and must be wearing full personal protective equipment, the advisory says.

Non-urgent medical appointments have also been suspended, Monias said. Anyone who is already away from the community for medical treatment has been told not to return until next Monday, so leadership can assess the situation.

“We certainly are scared of rapid transmission. But we’re trying to stop the spread by keeping everybody where they’re supposed to be so it doesn’t go any further than where it is right now,” he said.

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