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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, March 5, 2021 /CNW/ - Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country. Overall, active case counts continue to decline, with 1,300 active cases reported as of March 4, 2021.

We know that the variants first identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), and Brazil (P.1) are here, in Canada. It is critical that everyone continue with 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 March 4, ISC is aware of:

  • 21,836 confirmed positive COVID-19 
  • 1,300 active cases
  • 20,291 recovered cases  
  • 245 deaths

There are a total of 48 confirmed positive cases in Nunavik, Quebec, and all but 6 have recovered. As of March 4, the Government of Nunavut is reporting 14 active cases in the Kivalliq Region, and a total of 369 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the 369 reported cases, 354 people have recovered from the virus.

As of February 25, 2021, more than 2.4 million Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been distributed across the country. As of March 4, 2021, more than 127,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in more than 480 First Nations, Inuit and Territorial communities. The vaccination campaign in Indigenous communities is going well, with approximately 40% of the indigenous population in First Nations, Inuit and Territorial communities having received at least one dose.

On February 26, Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The Government of Canada expects to receive 6.5 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and the Serum Institute of India's version of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of March. On March 5th, Canada also approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  It anticipates receiving 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of September.

Earlier this week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the timeframe between receiving the first and the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine be extended to allow more people to be vaccinated earlier. Current real world evidence suggests high vaccine effectiveness against disease and hospitalization after the first dose, including among older populations. Provinces and territories are being encouraged to engage with Indigenous partners when looking to maximize the number of people receiving a first dose by extending the interval between doses up to 4 months.

In line with NACI recommendations, all Indigenous adults, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis, are recommended to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible. The Government of Canada encourages the ongoing co-planning discussions at various levels between First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership with provinces and territories to determine the timing and plans for accomplishing this goal.

The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments—who have the lead for planning and implementing COVID-19 vaccination programs in their jurisdiction—to allocate, distribute and administer vaccines as efficiently, equitably and effectively as possible.  Provinces and territories are working with Indigenous communities to identify how vaccines will be administered as supply increases.

As we work to support vaccine administration in Indigenous communities, we are also continuing to support the vaccine roll out for Indigenous adults living in urban cities and towns across Canada. Urban areas, including Ottawa and Winnipeg, have begun vaccines clinics for Indigenous peoples in culturally safe spaces such as in the Akausivik Clinic in Ottawa for Inuit, who vaccinated over 700 people since the beginning of their vaccination campaign.

A number of federal partners, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), ISC and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, continue to work in collaboration with communities, provinces and territories in an effort to assess on-going community needs, and supports. Currently, the CAF is on the ground in several First Nation communities, including Pimicikamak in Manitoba, Fort Nelson First Nation in British Columbia, Hatchet Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan and Muskrat Dam Lake First Nation in Ontario, to help manage COVID-19 outbreaks and vaccine distribution. In Ontario, Weeneebayko and ORNGE, who are leading Operation Remote Immunity, are currently administering second doses in a number of communities. Thanks to their efforts, more than 2,800 people received a vaccine dose in First Nations communities since January. ISC is also exploring with First Nations and provincial partners where there may be an interest in partnership opportunities with the CAF to expand capacity for logistics support and accelerate the administration of vaccines.

Additionally, ISC continues to support Indigenous communities and the impacts of COVID-19 on their population through partnerships and other innovative solutions. In some communities, ISC is supporting community leadership on addressing gaps in mental health and substance use services. ISC also continues to support communities by actively sending personal protective equipment and vaccine administration supplies and working with community health services to provide surge capacity, contact tracing and testing. 

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SOURCE Indigenous Services Canada

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