Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities 26 September


There has been a considerable weekly increase in the number of new and active COVID-19 cases in First Nation communities since mid-August. This has resulted in the highest number of weekly new cases since the beginning of the pandemic. This week total number of active cases has increased from 79 to 121 cases. Equally concerning is the growing number of cases in First Nation communities that originate outside of First Nation communities.

As of September 24, 2020 Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities:

  • 631 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19
  • 52 hospitalizations
  • 121 active cases
  • 499 recovered cases
  • 11 deaths

There are a total of 19 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all but 2 have recovered.

These growing numbers are a clear indication that we must reinforce the same degree of health precautions that were taken this spring. While these changes are hard, individual action will greatly influence the course of the pandemic and we cannot stop now. We must continue this work until we are all safe.

Individuals can help by:

  • Avoiding non-essential trips;
  • Limit the number of non-essential gatherings as much as possible;
  • Limit the number of people in your social groups, avoid large gatherings;
  • Maintaining physical distancing of at least 2 meters or 6 feet;
  • Wearing a non-medical mask that covers your nose and mouth when physical distancing is not possible; and
  • Following the recommended public health guidelines outlined by your province or territory of residence, and/or by your community Leadership including guidelines on wearing masks in schools.

We must also remember to maintain proper hand hygiene and etiquette, even when out on the land, including:

  • Washing hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or elbow, not hands, and disposing of used tissues as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands immediately afterwards.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

COVID-19 can take up to 14 days after being exposed to the virus for symptoms to appear. During this time, the virus can easily spread to others. This means that decisions made today could affect families, friends and communities for weeks to come. We urge everyone to help change the trend by following public health measures.

According to Public Health Agency of Canada, you need to self-isolate for 14 days under the following circumstances:

  1. If you are returning from travelling outside of Canada: this is a mandatory self-isolation period.
  2. If you have had close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19.
  3. If you have been instructed by Public Health to isolate due to a possible exposure to a COVID-19 individual.

Self-isolation means:

  1. Stay at home.
  2. Avoid contact with other people.
  3. Practice public health measures such as physical distancing, cleaning common surfaces, performing hand hygiene and coughing/sneezing into a tissue.

The Government of Canada, along with Indigenous partners, continues to manage the impacts of the pandemic, while preparing for future waves. This includes taking steps to ensure everyone living in Canada can access future treatment and vaccines. Our country’s recovery from the pandemic will take time. We must continue to be careful, and listen to the advice of our public health experts.

At this time of year, we are also concerned about influenza, commonly known as seasonal flu. We can reduce the spread of the seasonal flu by following the same public health and hygiene practices recommended to limit the spread of COVID 19. The annual flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu and flu-related complications.

To date over $2.2 billion has been committed in specific support to Indigenous and northern communities and organizations. Indigenous Services Canada continues to work with Indigenous leadership and organizations to identify and respond to the needs of communities and stands ready to deploy additional resources as the pandemic evolves.

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