COVID-19 Pandemic |APTN News



The COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

APTN News is reporting from across the country on the viral outbreak and how it is impacting Indigenous communities.


COVID-19 Cases



How to stop the spread

COVID-19 is now a high risk for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Elders and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk. Some people who contract the virus may notice nothing more than the symptoms of a cold or flu.

There are ways to protect yourself and others from contracting the virus.



Frequently Asked Questions

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a viral infectious disease discovered when the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December.

It was classified as a global pandemic on Mar. 11.

Coronaviruses are a family of virus that can cause respiratory infections: COVID-19 is the newest type.

COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019. SARS was a coronavirus that broke out in 2003.

It was deadlier yet less infectious than COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Should Indigenous communities be worried?

According to Valerie Gideon, assistant deputy minister of Indigenous Services, people in remote communities must take care when travelling to urban centres for medical appointments or other services. Gideon told a Parliamentary committee that the H1N1 virus spread to remote communities by people visiting cities and then travelling back.

Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller acknowledges many Indigenous communities are at higher risk for numerous reasons such as historic socioeconomic gaps, overcrowding, and lack of clean drinking water, among others.

The government announced an $82 billion aid package for Canadians. Of that, $305 million is earmarked for First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples.

“The First Nations portion of this is $215 million. Each First Nation will get a base amount adjusted for population, remoteness, and community wellbeing. The Inuit portion is $45 million and will flow to each of the four Inuit land claim organizations with allocation determined by ITK and regional leadership. For Metis there will be an amount of $30 million that will flow through each governing member. The remaining percentage, which accounts for $15 million, will go to supporting regional, urban and Indigenous organizations supporting those who live away from their communities.”

Some Indigenous communities deal with substandard living conditions and inequal social determinants of health. There is a housing crisis in the North that leads to overcrowding. There are 61 long-term drinking water advisories on reserves. Remoteness can create barriers to accessing health care services.

Indigenous peoples deal with higher rates of malnutrition and chronic illness which leads to greater risk for amplified effects from COVID-19.

What should you do?

To mitigate spread the WHO advises frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer, sneezing or coughing into the elbow, avoiding touching the face, avoiding crowds, and staying one metre – three feet – away from those who are coughing or sneezing.

Without clean water, the government recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitizer or placing boiled water into a bowl, washing hands, then throwing out the water after each individual use.

The government says remote communities should consider stocking up on needed supplies like food and medicine in case the supply chain may be interrupted or become unreliable.

Stay home if you think you are sick or display even mild symptoms.

Call a health care professional to inform them of your symptoms and ask for further instruction.

A healthcare professional may diagnose reported or suspected COVID-19 cases, but these can only be confirmed through laboratory tests.

The government is asking those who have been diagnosed to self-isolate, which means staying home, limiting contact with others, monitoring symptoms, and taking extra care not to contaminate common items and surfaces.

The federal government has discussed the idea of providing isolation tents for overcrowded communities, increasing the number of nurses, and sending hand sanitizer.

How sick will I get?

According to the WHO, COVID-19 symptoms are similar to a common cold or influenza virus. Some become infected and show no symptoms at all.

The WHO says 80 per cent of patients recover without needing special treatment and roughly one in six patients become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing.

Thus, the illness is generally mild but the government says those who are over 65, have compromised immune systems, or underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for developing serious illness.

How does it spread?

The disease spreads from person to person primarily through small respiratory droplets which are expelled through coughing or sneezing.

The incubation period refers to the time between catching the virus and displaying symptoms. COVID-19’s incubation period is estimated to range from one to 14 days.

However, because COVID-19 is new, WHO says it’s assessing ongoing research and will update its information accordingly.

They recommend following local and national health authorities for the most up to date information.

On Mar.6, the Canadian government mobilized $27-million to support 47 COVID-19 research across the country.

At present there is no vaccine for COVID-19.


Our Coverage

March 27, 2020

Kashechewan asks PM to send in military as flood season approaches with COVID-19 preventing evacuations

The chief of Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send in Canadian Military engineers to help protect the community as the flood season fast approaches… Read more.

Pipeline workers putting locals at risk of COVID-19 infection: Unist’ot’en

Mega-projects across the country say they’re scaling back work to reduce COVID-19 risk to their own employees and protect residents of nearby communities… Read more.

COVID-19 clamps down on Wet’suwet’en all-clans meeting

The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the all-clans meeting for Wet’suwet’en members in northern B.C… Read more.

Fly-in First Nation ready to lock down as feds set up pandemic task force

A remote fly-in First Nation in northern Ontario is locking down borders and restricting air travel in and out of the community to prepare for COVID-19 while the government is setting up a task group to help remote and isolated communities… Read more.

Postponing Tokyo Olympics ‘gut wrenching’ for athletes

Joy SpearChief-Morris’ dream of representing Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, is on hold… Read more.

COVID-19 pandemic putting pressure on women’s shelters

Women’s shelters across Canada are seeing greater demand during the COVID-19 pandemic at a time they are being forced to turn needy clients away… Read more.

Trudeau government announces help for small and medium business

At his daily briefing in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an aid package aimed at small and medium businesses… Read more.

Montreal shelter closes its doors but moves outside to help homeless

A Montreal day shelter that caters to the city’s Indigenous homeless people has closed its doors because of the COVID-19 virus… Read more.

Voting in a time of pandemic: Why Shoal Lake 39 felt pressed to hold an election

The building where people voted in Shoal Lake 39 looked more like a testing centre for the COVID-19 virus than a place where you cast a ballot for chief and council… Read more.

Worried about COVID-19? Call an Elder

Being isolated and distanced during the pandemic can cause concern, fear and even boredom… Read more.

Yukon Territory declares state of emergency over COVID-19

The Yukon Territory is the latest jurisdiction in Canada to declare a state of emergency over the spread of the COVID-19 virus… Read more.

Manitoba won’t commit to stopping kids from ‘aging out’ of the system during the pandemic

The Manitoba government is examining potential solutions to assist youth who are aging out of care during the COVID-19 pandemic, but wouldn’t commit to stopping the process… Read more.

Federal government promises to prevent First Nation youth from aging out of care during pandemic

Calling it an “exceptional measure” the federal government announced late Friday it won’t let First Nation youth age out of the on-reserve child welfare system because it’s going cover all costs for youth to keep their supports during the COVID-19 pandemic… Read more.

March 25, 2020

First Nation leaders say $305M not enough as MPs greenlight COVID-19 relief measures

The House of Commons has passed a bill that greenlights the government’s $82-billion COVID-19 economic relief package but according to a letter sent to the government by Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI)… Read more.

Nunavummiut asked to treat COVID-19 like a piqsiq

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq announced Wednesday that there are still zero cases of the COVID-19 virus in the territory.

Mathias Colomb First Nation winter games push COVID-19 aside to carry on in a different way

The annual winter games in Mathias Colomb First Nation isn’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic get in the way of carrying on with a tradition.

New COVID-19 benefit promises fast relief during crisis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a new financial support program Wednesday to help workers affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic… Read more.

Yukon student leading lonely life on campus during the pandemic

A student in Whitehorse from a community 600 km away is leading a lonely life on campus after the territorial government warned against travelling home… Read more.

NAIG becomes latest event postponed due to Covid-19

The 2020 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) are the latest major event to have to postpone because of the Covid-19 pandemic… Read more.

Front line workers in Montreal say not enough is being done to keep homeless safe from COVID-19

Front line workers who help the city’s homeless say the province isn’t doing enough to protect those people who live on the streets from contracting COVID-19… Read more.

March 24, 2020

‘This is not unexpected’: Cases of COVID-19 spike in Quebec as Ottawa grapples with aid package

The province of Quebec now leads the country with the most diagnosed cases of COVID-19 including two new cases in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake… Read more.

‘We can’t just shut them out’: Winnipeg grassroots organizations fight to help city’s vulnerable

Grassroots organizations are coming up with creative ways to service Winnipeg’s urban Indigenous population during the COVID-19 pandemic… Read more.

‘No one was listening’: Berens River members take action over COVID-19 fears

Travel is restricted, events are cancelled, and people are being told to stay home across the country as Canada tries to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Maskwacis Nation in Alberta declares state of emergency

The four First Nations that make up the Maskwacis community in Alberta have declared a state of emergency due to their proximity to Edmonton and Alberta.

First Nations Health Authority tailoring its messaging about COVID 19

The public health communication about COVID-19 that’s aimed at Indigenous communities should be tailored and take into account Indigenous experiences, say a health official and a researcher who work with First Nation and Metis communities… Read more.

Fisher River Cree girl way ahead of the COVID-19 toilet paper frenzy

A little girl from Fisher River Cree Nation 200 km north of Winnipeg, was amassing a collection long before the COVID-19 frenzy… Read more.

March 19, 2020

‘This is not a question of if – it’s a question of when’: Miller promises quick access to COVID-19 relief money

For the fourth straight day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the country from the front yard of Rideau Cottage, where he and his family are in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19… Read more.

Vancouver stepping up to protect street people amid pandemic

Vancouver is home to a large number of people whose lifestyle makes it nearly impossible to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus… Read more.

Doctor tests positive for COVID-19 in Kahnawake Mohawk territory

The first known case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed in an Indigenous community in Canada… Read more.

NWT declares state of emergency despite being COVID-19 free

The Northwest Territories remains COVID-19 free. But that doesn’t mean people living there aren’t affected… Read more.

Former Sagkeeng school principal pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Former Sagkeeng First Nation high school principal and community leader Claude Guimond pleaded guilty earlier this week to two counts of second-degree murder in Winnipeg court… Read more.

Ontario sees second COVID-19 death

Halton Region Public Health reported the deceased was a man in his 50s who had underlying health issues… Read more.

Artists putting talents online to counter ‘this time of fear’

Cree comedian Don Burnstick’s latest show started like any other… Read more

Nation to Nation | ‘Race against the clock’ to protect vulnerable First Nations from COVID-19

COVID-19 is known to be more harmful to the elderly and people that are immunocompromised and have chronic illnesses, which is more prevalent on-reserve… Read more.

Saskatchewan First Nations see COVID-19 cases

Saskatchewan First Nation has one – and possibly two cases – of COVID-19 after test results returned from the federal virology laboratory in Winnipeg, Man… Read more.

March 18, 2020

Yukon’s chief medical officer of health declares public health emergency

At a media update this morning, Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley accompanied by Premier Sandy Silver declared a public health emergency… Read more.

‘Our people are resilient’: Manitoba First Nations organization prepares for pandemic

Indigenous organizations are taking steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic less than a week after Manitoba recorded it’s first case… Read more.

InFocus | What’s being done in communities to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic?

We speak to women making a difference and have plenty of advice on how you and your loved ones – and communities – can stay safe whether you’re in a remote community or an urban centre… Read more.

Over $300M earmarked for Indigenous communities as Justin Trudeau unveils COVID-19 relief measures

In Ottawa, the federal government said more support is coming for Indigenous communities. In front of Rideau Cottage – where he and his family remain in self-isolation – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled an $82-billion response package on Wednesday… Read more.

A summary of COVID-19 emergency funds

On Wednesday, the federal government announced an $82-billion financial aid package to help the country through the COVID-19 pandemic… Read more.

Nunavut is closed: Health minister declares public emergency

Nunavut’s health minister has declared a public health emergency as Nunavut remains one of three federal jurisdictions without a positive test for COVID-19… Read more.

Kahnawake confirms first case of COVID-19

Just hours after live-streaming their update of the day, members of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s COVID-19 Task Force returned to publicly confirm a first diagnosis in the community… Read more.

March 12, 2020