Health authority warns rule-breakers will mean more COVID in Fond du Lac

·2 min read

FOND-DU-LAC, Sask. — Officials in northern Saskatchewan are warning that residents of a remote community gripped by an outbreak of COVID-19 are putting people at risk by flouting public health protocols.

The Athabasca Health Authority says people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 — including some who are experiencing symptoms — in Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation have refused to get tested.

It says some are even hosting parties.

The health authority says in a Facebook post that those who have been directed to self-isolate because they tested positive for COVID-19 or had close contact with someone who did aren't following those orders.

Many of these people, the post continues, are frequenting the Northern Store which it says puts everyone at risk, including the community's nurses and paramedics.

A little over two weeks ago, the fly-in community of about 1,000 people had no cases, but by Sunday was reporting 63 cases, 52 of which were active.

For weeks there hasn't been a consistent supply of running water for cleaning and handwashing in Fond du Lac due to mechanical issues with the water treatment plant, and some health officials have said that may have contributed to the spread of the virus.

"There continues to be house parties in the community with many people attending. We are aware of a party that had over 50 people attend this past week," Sunday's post by the Athabasca Health Authority stated.

"This event has the potential to be a super spreader within the community."

The post does note that some people have recovered, but it says people need to follow restrictions for at least three more weeks to bring infections down to zero.

"This will take a commitment from everyone in the community not just some of you," it said.

The authority estimated last week that more than two-thirds of the active cases are tied to the community's school, which has closed.

The community said on Facebook Sunday that 325 people in Fond du Lac — approximately a third of the population — are currently considered close contacts of someone with COVID-19.

Saskatchewan reported 236 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. No additional deaths were reported, which means the provincial total remained at 33.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press