COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: What you need to know


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COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: What you need to know's Profile

A nurse in Madawaska Maliseet First Nation says she will encourage people who might be vulnerable to COVID-19 to proceed with caution after New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced all restrictions will be gone by March 14.

“We still have to keep in mind that some people are at higher risk of complications and hospitalizations,” said Isabelle Wallace, a nurse at the Madawaska Maliseet Health Centre.

On Thursday, Higgs announced that starting Monday, people will no longer need to show proof of vaccination at places like restaurants and gyms, and that on March 14, gathering limits, isolation requirements and indoor and outdoor masking rules will end.

Wallace, who is Wolastaqoy from Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, said she will continue to wear a mask in public places for the time being and she wants people to “lean on the safer side” when the restrictions end in New Brunswick.

“For the people going in public spaces, I would still be mindful of the symptoms surveillance. If you do have symptoms, you shouldn’t go in public and you should try to keep it in mind that you might be contagious of COVID or other illnesses and you might put others at risk,” Wallace said.

The total number of hospitalizations for people on First Nations due to COVID-19 has increased by 69 since Feb. 16, and there have been 16 more deaths since last week.

Active cases continue to trend downward

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) said as of Feb. 24, the department is aware of a total of 2,971 hospitalizations in First Nations communities due to COVID-19, and 656 deaths.

According to data from ISC, there were 3,393 active cases of COVID-19 reported in First Nations as of Feb. 24. This is down from the 3,762 active cases reported as of Feb. 16. Case numbers may be understated as some provinces limit access to COVID-19 tests. 

To date, ISC is aware of a total of 11,265 cases in First Nations communities due to the Omicron variant: 6,430 in Eastern Canada and 4,835 in Western Canada. A total of 128 First Nations have reported cases of the strain.

The government of Nunavut said as of Feb. 22, there were 310 active cases of COVID-19 in 21 communities. 

To date, there have been 2,545 confirmed cases in Nunavut, 2,230 total recovered cases and five deaths. Nunavut says 27,776 people have received at least two vaccine doses.

Total cumulative COVID-19 case numbers in First Nations per region:

  • British Columbia: 8,278

  • Alberta: 18,821

  • Saskatchewan: 15,645

  • Manitoba: 21,158

  • Ontario: 11,301

  • Quebec: 7,350

  • Atlantic: 2,206

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What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • New or worsening cough.

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

  • Temperature equal to or over 38 C.

  • Feeling feverish.

  • Chills.

  • Fatigue or weakness.

  • Muscle or body aches.

  • New loss of smell or taste.

  • Headache.

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting.

  • Feeling very unwell.

If you think you might have COVID-19, please consult your local health department.

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