The fourth wave of COVID-19 infections has hit First Nations communities nationwide as the Delta variant makes its way through populations with lower vaccination rates, numbers published by Indigenous Services Canada this week showed.
There are 1,482 active cases currently ongoing in First Nations communities across Canada, up from 1,221 last week.
The statistics continue to paint a grim picture as the fourth wave takes hold in First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, as the numbers continue to climb, helped by the more-contagious Delta variant of the virus.
ISC reports ‘the rate of reported active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations people was going down since mid-January 2021 and reached its lowest point during the first week of August at 84.2 per 100,000. Since then, it started to rise again and is currently 291.8 per 100,000 or 3.5 times the respective rate in the general Canadian population.
Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have all been hit hardest, with more than 9,000 active cases in First Nations communities in each of those provinces.
In addition, the death toll rose again to 397 lives lost to the virus and its complications, up from 394 last week.
The vaccine passport program is well underway in Quebec and in Kahnawake, with proof of vaccination required to enter movie theatres, festivals, bars, gyms and other non-essential services. By next week, non-essential businesses and other sensitive services will require a passport or risk a fine of up to $6,000.
Vaccination campaigns are currently underway in 687 First Nations communities, and authorities are pushing for higher vaccination rates, as the highest percentage of new cases comes in the 20-39 age category, with just over 17 per cent of new cases infecting women in that age category.
ISC reports 748,209 doses have been administered, of that 330,197 were second doses in individuals aged 12 and over, making them fully vaccinated. ISC couldn’t provide the percentage of eligible recipients that are fully vaccinated, but authorities believe herd immunity can be achieved with 75 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase