Northern Manitoba still on high alert despite no COVID-19 cases

Northern Manitoba has now gone four months without any COVID-19 cases since three residents tested positive in early April.

The Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) area has been COVID-free since April 6 when the last case was classified as recovered.

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“We know we have been extremely fortunate with our COVID-19 numbers. We credit a combination of the vigilance and cooperation of our staff, our communities, our First Nation partners, band councils and the people of northern Manitoba,” said NRHA CEO Helga Bryant Aug. 11.

“We are not done with COVID-19 in the North and throughout the world. We have to remember that COVID-19 is part of our day-to-day reality. We can’t afford to be complacent. We have too much at stake. Our plans remain active, and we will continue to work with our citizens and all of our partners to keep the North safe,” she added.

The three residents who tested positive, a male in his 50s, another male in his 30s and a female in her 20s, have all recovered and none of them required hospitalization.

“It is a relief that we have not had any cases, but I do not believe we should not let our guard down. The chances of getting the virus in the north are raised, considering the number of new cases starting in the province, so it is important that we keep our guard up at all times,” said Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook.

There are 202 active cases in Manitoba with five hospitalizations and three people in intensive care as of Aug. 12. The total number of lab-confirmed positive and probable positive cases in Manitoba is 578.

“In our area, the businesses took it quite seriously and forced a strict rule in terms of social distancing,” said Gillam mayor Dwayne Forman. "I hope that we will continue on the same path, but it is important not to let our guards down just because there have not been cases in the north. We need to be prepared for it when it comes, and we shouldn’t think we are invincible."

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee reminds everyone to continue to be vigilant in response to growing rates of COVID-19 in Manitoba.

“We are living through a pandemic,” said Settee in a press release. “We all must work diligently to help protect the health of First Nations peoples.”

As of Aug. 4, the total number of lab-confirmed positive and probable positive cases of COVID-19 among members of Manitoba First Nations was 17. There have been 10,834 tests conducted for First Nations citizens across Manitoba since the pandemic began.

“I encourage First Nations citizens to remain calm and not panic," said Settee. "Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to seek out a COVID test if you have symptoms. Encourage others around you to get tested if they are showing symptoms. Let’s continue working together and supporting each other to help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”

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