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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
While Manitoba has suspended its plan to end the controversial practice of birth alerts, which was to take effect April 1, new figures show only 34 alerts have been issued in the first three months of 2020… Read more.
Dozens of First Nations in northern British Columbia have imposed a lockdown system as a preventative measure to stop the chance of the COVID-19 virus from getting into their communities or declared a state of emergency… Read more.
Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan announced Monday that the military is ramping up its operational preparedness in case it’s needed to aid remote communities struggling with COVID-19… Read more.
The Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) have struck a deal that will help support Indigenous families who are choosing to be on the land to escape the spread of the COVID-19 virus… Read more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indigenous friendship and support centres in Ottawa are cancelling non-essential services and programs while scrambling to find ways to serve their clients as the city braces for the COVID-19 pandemic… Read more.
The chief of the Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan has drawn the attention of a magazine in the United States because of his planning for the COVID-19 virus compared to President Donald Trump… Read more.
Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq levi announced a travel restriction on the territory that is, so far, the strictest in the country in an effort to keep out the COVID-19 virus that is spreading across Canada… Read more.
Nine people are isolated in a northern Saskatchewan First Nation after having direct contact with a person infected with the novel coronavirus, says the chief of Peter Ballentyne Cree Nation… Read more.
VIDEO | Indigenous Services Minister explains COVID-19 funding for Indigenous communities
It’s a question of when, not if, COVID-19 gets into Indigenous communities, so said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller on Thursday.
Miller announced $305 million to prepare Indigenous communities for the coming crisis.
He joins APTN National News to explain.
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.
Yukon’s chief medical officer of health declares public health emergency
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.
Expect most First Nations in Ontario to join province in declaring state of emergency: AIAI Grand Chief
VIDEO | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the country on the COVID-19 pandemic
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Canada on the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday morning.
Feds acknowledge need to protect Indigenous communities but details remain sparse
Nunavut has not had a single positive test for COVID-19, and the territorial government announced today that all grade schools and daycares will close starting Tuesday and remain that way for three weeks.
VIDEO | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the country on the COVID-19 pandemic
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Canada on the COVID-19 pandemic Monday afternoon. Media had an opportunity to ask him question.
Essential information on COVID-19
First Nations taking preventative measures to combat COVID-19
After receiving criticism in the house of commons for not recognizing the urgency facing Indigenous communities from COVID-19, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) held a technical briefing via teleconference call Friday evening… Read more.
VIDEO | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses media on COVID-19 pandemic
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the media Friday a day after his wife, Sophie Gregoire, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Trudeau said he and his children are in self isolation for two weeks. Ms. Trudeau is in quarantine for an undetermined amount of time.
VIDEO | Dr. Barry Lavallee discusses the COVID-19 pandemic
Now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, many are wondering what COVID-19 means for Indigenous communities. Dr. Barry Lavallee is an Indigenous family physician in Manitoba specializing in Indigenous health and northern practice.
It’s been four days since organizers in the Yukon announced that the Arctic Winter Games that were scheduled to start Mar. 15 were cancelled over concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus… Read more.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has put together a committee to help guide his government through the covid-19 outbreak but a name you won’t see around the table is Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller… Read more.
Arctic Winter Games organizers watching Covid-19 issue as games get closer
Organizers of the 2020 Arctic Winter Games and Yukon government say they’re taking all necessary precautions to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19 in Whitehorse during the games which are scheduled to run the week of Mar. 15… Read more.
Indigenous groups and organizations across Canada are taking preventative measures to help educate and prevent the spread of COVID-19, or the coronavirus as it’s more commonly known as, in communities… Read more.