On March 11, the World Health Oganization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. APTN News is reporting from across the country on the viral outbreak and how it is impacting Indigenous communities. For more information click here: COVID-19
It remains unclear what steps the federal government is taking to protect Indigenous communities from the global outbreak of COVID-19.
Standing on the lawn at Rideau Cottage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government is closing the border to foreign nationals except for Americans and preventing anyone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, including Canadian citizens, from boarding planes coming to the country.
Trudeau also talked about money set aside for Indigenous communities. The government’s COVID-19 response fund includes $100-million, a portion of which is earmarked for Indigenous peoples.
He did not say how that money will be used.
“On Friday, I spoke with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation leaders to discuss the work we’re doing together on preparedness and mitigation efforts,” Trudeau said.
“Minister Miller also provided an update on our regular co-ordination with Indigenous partners as well as the provinces and territories. Minister Vandal has also been connecting with the territories, and is working on exceptional measures to protect the North.”
At a press conference shortly after, APTN News asked Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam if they would consider bringing in the military to construct field hospitals.
“Right now, all kinds of solutions are on the table,” she replied. “If there’s a certain need for some surge capacity, some of those things can absolutely be considered.”
Amid reports that some communities are restricting travel in and out of their reserves, Tam also acknowledged the acute need to defend Indigenous communities.
“We cannot afford to have the virus enter an area that has less ability to cope with it,” she said.
“The ability to tolerate that kind of risk is such that I think many are thinking we just can’t afford to let the virus enter, so as a result many might be taking those kinds of decisions, but it is an individual community decision as well.”
-with files from Todd Lamirande and The Canadian Press