A First Nation community located 425km north of Sioux Lookout is experiencing a major outbreak of COVID-19, and are calling on the federal government for immediate support.
Bearskin Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency on December 29th. By January 3rd, 174 individuals out of the 400 community members had tested positive for COVID-19.
In a prepared release, Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin says the community’s operations have been crippled, as essential staff of the band’s administration, operations and maintenance units.
The release also adds that Bearskin Lake already deals with poorly-resourced and understaffed healthcare, and no space for testing or isolation.
In response to the Chief’s call for aid, Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu says her ministry is working with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, Windigo Mental Health and the Northwestern Health Unit to provide support to the community.
A Rapid Response team was deployed out of Thunder Bay, as well as primary care nurses, paramedics and environmental health officers. Indigenous Services has also approved a total funding of $900,000 to assist, on top of the $3.9 million Bearskin Lake had received to fight COVID-19 since March 2020.
The funding will go towards food security, personal protective equipment, additional community workers, infrastructure, and other essential supplies and services.