First Nation communities in lockdown after COVID cases spike in Moosonee

·2 min read

First Nation communities along the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast are in lockdown after a spike in cases.

Since last Friday, 15 cases of COVID-19 have beenreported in Moosonee.

The Porcupine Health Unit has also warned of a potential exposure risk to people who were at GG's Ace Hardware Store in Moosonee Thursday Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 19. People who have visited the store during those days are advised to monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last day they visited, which ends Feb. 25 to March 5.

In a video message posted on Facebook, Moosonee’s Mayor Wayne Taipale asked people not to panic and stay home.

“There’s likely to be more positive cases during tracing but we urge everybody not to panic,” he said. “We encourage everybody to follow the requirements, stay home and not to travel unless it’s essential, to wash hands, wear mask and keep distances. If we all do this, then we’ll be getting this under control faster.”

Fort Albany First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Moose Factory Island and Kashechewan First Nation are currently in lockdown.

Moose Factory's lockdown is in effect until March 12. Vehicle traffic to the island is restricted to Moose Factory Island residents, essential workers and residents from other communities who need to receive medical care.

A mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been put in place for all Moose Factory Island residents with exemptions for those who need to work, are in need of medical care and those participating in traditional harvesting, according to Moose Cree First Nation's statement. Residents are also required to wear double masks in all public places.

Moosonee Health Centre will be offering COVID-19 testing Wednesday, Feb. 24 by appointment only.

In Fort Albany, there is a community lockdown for domestic air travel and suspension of the temporary winter road travel corridor. Community members that have medical appointments in Moose Factory will be required to provide proof to be able to travel on the winter road.

All travellers, who are currently out of Fort Albany, will have until Thursday, Feb. 25 to return to the community. They will be required to isolate for 14 days and complete a nasal swab.

Kashechewan First Nation is in a two-week lockdown until March 5. Community members can use the winter road to travel to Moosonee for medical purposes until Feb. 27. According to Kashechewan’s statement, there will be medical drivers who will take the patients from the community and drive them to the Weeneebayko General Hospital in Moose Factory. At this time, residents are not allowed to drive to appointments on their own.

The Porcupine Health Unit COVID-19 information line can be reached at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,