381 First Nations have closed borders to non-essential travel, 81 confirmed COVID cases

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 2:34pm


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Dr. Valerie Gideon

In her address today to a livestreamed townhall hosted by the First Nations Health Managers Association, Dr. Valerie Gideon, senior assistant deputy minister responsible for health and Indigenous Services Canada, today reported that there are 81 tested positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities across the provinces—British Columbia, the first in Alberta this week, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec.

The territorial governments don’t break down which tested positive cases are First Nations or non-First Nations, said Gideon, but there are cases within Northwest Territories and Yukon. Nunavut remains COVID-free as of the morning of April 23, she said.

Gideon said 585 shipments of personal protective equipment, including hand sanitizer, has been sent by Indigenous Services Canada to the communities, with First Nations Health Authority shipping an additional 66 orders to B.C. Nations.

“So, there is a lot of preparedness efforts and response efforts that are underway across the country,” she said.

There are 381 First Nations that have closed their borders to non-essential travel, including setting up check points to ensure compliance.

Gideon reports that there are still challenges within First Nations communities in regards to social distancing with people continuing to gather “and that is potentially presenting a risk.”