Health officials say isolation units key to curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Kashechewan
TIMMINS -- COVID-19 case numbers have dropped somewhat in the past few days in the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast communities in Ontario's far north, but there are still more than 220 cases, about half of them in Kashechewan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured the First Nations again on Friday that help is on the way.
"The Armed Forces will be in the community until at least the end of this month, to help with everything from isolation sites to delivering food," said Trudeau.
On Wednesday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller listed all the supports the government was sending to the communities dealing with increasing cases. But Weeneebayko Area Health Authority officials said the isolation units are not ready.
Lynne Innes, the president and chief executive officer for the Authority, said she knows of 10 isolation units being built in Kashechewan. To control the virus, she said sick people need to be isolated safely.
"It’s not uncommon for 18-plus people to be in one home with three bedrooms and one bathroom," Innes said. "So if they’re positive and they’re in Kashechewan, they remain in their home and it varies from homes of 10 to 20 to 25 (people)."
Innes said she is not sure what is causing the delay in getting people into isolation.
"The First Nations have called on a lot of supports and it’s just waiting for the material to arrive and the manpower to assist to help get the resources put in place for the community," she said.
In response to the situation on the coast, the Porcupine Health Unit is asking people throughout its jurisdiction to continue following COVID health rules.
“We are interconnected," said Dr. Lianne Catton, medical officer of health for the Porcupine Health Unit. "We are stronger because of that interconnection, but that means that we have that shared sense of responsibility to contain our numbers, to contain the Delta variant, to keep out numbers down to protect everyone."
Innes said 88 children under the age of 12 are currently battling the UK variant, and 10 people have had to be transferred to other health centres for treatment.
Catton said reopening in the Porcupine Health Unit area will depend on case numbers and vaccination rates.