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Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities

Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, TRADITIONAL UNCEDED ALGONQUIN TERRITORY, ON, Jan. 13, 2021 /CNW/ - Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country. 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.

After showing signs of plateauing in December 2020, the number of active cases in First Nations communities has reached a new all-time high, with 4,384 active cases reported as of January 12, 2021. This included an increase of more than 800 active cases over the weekend for on reserve First Nations. Such a drastic increase has been linked to many small community gatherings during the holidays.

On First Nations reserves, as of January 12, ISC is aware of:

  • 11,502 confirmed positive COVID-19
  • 4,384 active cases
  • 7,011 recovered cases
  • 107 deaths

There are a total of 33 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all but 2 have recovered. As of January 12, the Government of Nunavut is reporting no active cases and a total of 266 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the 266 reported cases, 265 people have recovered from the virus.

ISC is aware of 10 out of 60 long-term care and personal care homes affected by COVID-19 on-reserve in Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec as of January 11, 2021. ISC is working to support efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Environmental Public Health Services continue to work directly with facility operators and public health teams to support outbreak response, assessment of facility public health risks and mitigation measures, and training and education. ISC's Chief Medical Officer maintains communications between Regional Medical Officers and Regional Executives regarding doubling down on public health preparedness and response measures in long-term care facilities, personal care homes and elder lodges. In addition, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations has recommended that long-term care facilities be a priority for COVID-19 vaccine implementation.

Vaccines are rolling out in Canada, and as of January 7, 2021, 548,950 Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been distributed across the country, including to various Indigenous communities in every province and territory. The primary focus of these vaccinations is starting with rural and remote Indigenous communities, as well as those communities and settings with outbreaks and high case numbers. Vaccines are expected to be available to all those who are recommended to receive them by the end of September.  

Widespread immunization presents one of the best options to protect people from COVID-19. Canada has a strong vaccine safety monitoring system that involves healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, the provinces and territories, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and Health Canada (HC). Significant coordination and planning around the vaccine rollout between partners, and provinces, territories and the federal government is underway and vaccine administration has begun in communities. To assist with the rollout in Indigenous communities, a COVID-19 Vaccine Planning Working Group was established by ISC. This working group supports linkages between provinces and territories, PHAC and First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, and provides a space for exchange of information and advice to those responsible for vaccine planning and administration.

ISC continues to look for ways to support Indigenous communities impacted by COVID-19. As of December 18, over $4.2 billion has been announced in COVID-19 support to Indigenous and northern communities and organizations, including $926.7 million for the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities.

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SOURCE Indigenous Services Canada

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