Several First Nations grapple with confirmed COVID-19 cases – The Globe and Mail

April 5, 2020

At least nine First Nations have confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising concerns about further transmission and prompting calls for greater responses from the federal and provincial governments.

Cases have been reported in Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Both urban and remote communities have been affected, from Six Nations of the Grand River near Hamilton to the Cree Nation of Nemaska, more than 1,000 kilometres northwest of Montreal, to Onion Lake Cree Nation, about 300 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

The developments have some communities taking steps to limit traffic in and out of their territories and declaring states of emergency. Some have said they do not have the health-care infrastructure and resources, including test swabs and personal protective equipment, to prevent an outbreak or respond to cases, if necessary.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam has not minced words about her own level of concern about cases in Indigenous communities, noting even a single case is extremely serious and that First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities face a higher risk of severe outcomes owing to health inequities and the higher prevalence of underlying medical conditions, as well as the unique challenges of remote and fly-in communities.

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