Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities 28 January

From: Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country. The number of reported active cases decreased this week in First Nations communities with 3508 active cases reported as of January 26, 2021. We have seen important fluctuations of newly reported case numbers in the past week.

Even with the arrival of vaccines, it is essential that everyone continue to follow public health measures including physical distancing, wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and non-essential travel, staying home when sick, and keeping up with frequent hand, cough and surface hygiene. The combination of all these public health measures are required to stop the spread of the virus.

In First Nations communities, as of January 26, ISC is aware of:

  • 15,894 confirmed positive COVID-19
  • 3508 active cases
  • 12,242 recovered cases
  • 144 deaths

There are a total of 42 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all but 11 have recovered. As of January 26, the Government of Nunavut is reporting 17 active cases in the Arviat region,and a total of 282 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the 282 reported cases, 264 people have recovered from the virus.

As of January 21, 2021, 1,119,225 Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been distributed across the country. As of January 22, 2021, ISC was aware of 196 communities with vaccinations underway (for either priority groups or all adults) in First Nations on-reserve communities and in Inuit communities in the provinces and territories. Another 143 communities have clinics planned. The Nunatsiavut Government announced on January 21 that 70% of the adult population had received the first shot of the Moderna vaccine. In urban areas, including Montreal, vaccine clinics have also started for the Indigenous homeless population. In Northern Ontario, the Ornge team has launched Operation Remote Immunity, who will work with the support of the Canadian Armed Forces to coordinate the vaccination of members of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation that are spread out among 31 remote First Nations.

Reduced shipments from Pfizer over the next several weeks are causing temporary delays in the vaccine roll-out across the country, but production and distribution is expected to ramp back up in mid-February. There are currently no disruptions to the shipments of Moderna that Canada is receiving, many of which are destined for northern communities.

Even with the temporary delay from Pfizer, every person in Canada who chooses to be vaccinated will have the opportunity by the end of September. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect us against COVID-19. That is why the Government of Canada is continuing to take steps to encourage inoculation across the country.

Coordination with provinces, territories and First Nations partners continues. Recently, ISC met with a number of groups, including with First Nations partners and representatives from the Government of Alberta to support transparent vaccine rollout and planning in First Nation communities. The Saskatchewan Health Authority also held a vaccine tabletop exercise with ISC staff and First Nations partners.

ISC continues to support communities, by actively sending PPE and working with community health services to provide surge capacity and testing. ISC is also helping resolve food security issues in communities at risk. In Garden Hill, Manitoba, for example, ISC staff have joined the Canadian Armed Forces in providing emergency on the ground support for up to 21 days in response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases. The Government is providing immediate assistance to local health authorities to provide medical care, and is assisting with the creation of an alternate isolation area in the community.

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