On Saturday the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) alerted the public of an increased risk of COVID-19 in the northern communities of Dillon and La Loche. As well Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority officials declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Buffalo River Dene Nation on Friday.
The outbreak at Buffalo River Dene Nation has been linked to evacuations due to forest fires.
The NITHA and Meadow Lake Tribal Council are working to contain the outbreak.
“We’ve had an increased number of cases within the far northwest communities. Most of the cases that have been reported are within the Buffalo River Dene Nation,” NITHA Medical Health Officer Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka said in an interview with the Herald last week.
“The increase is related to the displacement and evacuation due to the current forest fires — that was the main risk factor. Travel outside of the province was also identified as a risk factor for increased transmission.”
They are strongly urging Saskatchewan residents, especially those who are unvaccinated to follow the standard protocols around COVID-19 and keep two metres away from others when in public and wear a mask, limit gatherings. wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth or mask with unwashed hands, stay home if you are unwell; seek health care services when you need help and regularly monitor your health for any COVID-19 symptoms.
As well in order to keep everyone in SHA care spaces safe during the outbreak family presence/visitation is being restricted to visitors from these communities, and limited to Compassionate, End of Life Care, and Critical Care(ED) situation for the St Joseph’s Health Centre (Ile a La Crosse) Acute Care, St Joseph’s Health Centre (Ile a La Crosse) Long Term Care and La Loche Health Centre – Acute Care and Long Term Care.
For more details on levels of family presence, review the at-a-glance guides for acute care and long-term care.
“The decision to restrict family presence is not taken lightly. These measures are in place to keep you, your loved ones, and health care workers safe. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is asking the public for their support and cooperation in order to contain the spread of the virus,” the SHA release stated.
These limitations will be reviewed in two weeks but will remain in place until it is safe to return to the previous level of family presence. Family members and support people who are permitted must follow SHA guidelines for screening, personal protective equipment and physical distancing.
They also advise people to call HealthLine 811 or your physician for a referral or visit your local drive-thru testing site and get vaccinated.
“At this time, the risk of contracting COVID-19 is not determined by age but by immunization status,” the release stated.
Health officials are not available for interviews until Monday.
-With files from Michael Bramadat-Willcock