Bearskin Lake First Nation in Ontario in lockdown, state of emergency with dozens of COVID-19 cases


A remote First Nation in northwestern Ontario with fewer than 400 people on reserve has declared a state of emergency and gone into lockdown amid rapidly rising COVID-19 case numbers.

Bearskin Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency Wednesday after dozens of people tested positive for COVID-19. (Google)

A fly-in First Nation in northwestern Ontario has declared a state of emergency and has gone into lockdown due to a rapidly rising number of cases of COVID-19.

The emergency was declared Wednesday in Bearskin Lake First Nation, where fewer than 400 people live on reserve, more than 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

Only essential travel is allowed, and all community members are required to remain in their homes and only leave for supplies and groceries.

The declaration said there have been 24 positive COVID-19 test results within 10 households in the community as of early Wednesday morning.

A Facebook post by Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin late Wednesday night said there were 39 cases affecting 23 households, with more test results expected to come in.

The First Nation is expecting the number of cases to “dramatically increase over the coming hours and days,” the emergency declaration said.

Nurses ‘feeling the strain’ 

All those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are isolating in their homes until further notice, according to the declaration.

As of Wednesday, there were only two nurses in the First Nation. According to the declaration, “they are feeling the strain of conducting the number of COVID-19 tests and they are in immediate need of extra nursing support to continue providing care within the community.”

The declaration adds that the First Nation is requesting additional supports from the federal government or “from other agencies,” including personal protective equipment (PPE) co-ordination and supplies, financial resources to pay for those supplies, additional manpower and emergency support services in the coming days and weeks.

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