‘Quite alarming’ spike in COVID-19 cases among First Nations: officials

There are 194 new COVID-19 cases reported among First Nations people in Manitoba since the week prior, according to a release from the province’s First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team issued on Friday.

Of those new cases, 79 are on First Nations, and 171 are active, according to Leona Star with the pandemic response team, which partners with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to provide First Nations COVID-19 data.

On Oct. 23, the team reported 110 new cases among First Nations people.

The spike is “quite alarming,” AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said in a news conference streamed live on Facebook on Friday.

“We know the vulnerability of our communities. We know we’re at risk in certain areas… I think it’s important to be diligent,” he said.

“I want to acknowledge everyone who has tried their best to minimize the risk and slow the spread of this virus.”

As of Friday, there are 25 First Nations people in hospital in the province, between the ages of 16 and 82. One man and six women are in intensive care, between the ages of 38 and 82, Star reported.

The virus has been reported in 24 First Nations in Manitoba, which is just over one-third, according to the team.

In spite of various challenges, Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak said Friday that leadership has done a great deal to stem the spread of the virus.

“I’m proud of how our teams have worked together and collaborated and ensuring we’re providing the support that’s needed,”  he said.

“The chiefs have been very strong supporting their communities.”

The First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team will begin reporting written COVID-19 updates every day starting this coming week.

Indigenous Services Canada says as of Thursday, it was aware of 1,360 confirmed positive COVID-19 across the country, including 348 active cases.

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