Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg closes schools amid COVID-19 outbreak

·2 min read
Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Dylan Whiteduck says a contest in the community is slowly increasing vaccination rates.  (Jean-François Poudrier/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Dylan Whiteduck says a contest in the community is slowly increasing vaccination rates. (Jean-François Poudrier/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has closed its schools after a COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed in the community in the Outaouais.

The first case was detected on Friday and health care staff worked throughout the weekend contact tracing. As of Monday there were eight confirmed cases.

Those individuals are isolating and the people they were in contact with are being tested, according to Chief Dylan Whiteduck.

The schools and daycare were affected by the outbreak, according to the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO).

As a result, the Kitigan Zibi school, the Pakinawatik school, the daycare, as well as the Odekan program for children ages 0 to 6, were closed, the CISSSO said in an email.

The public health authority says it's working with community officials, including the schools, to complete contact tracing, testing and give isolation instructions.

Vaccination rate comparatively low

Whiteduck told Radio-Canada the closures are a precaution to protect the community's elders and young children.

The outbreak has caused a delay in planning vaccination clinics for 5 to 11 year olds, he said.

He estimates Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg has a vaccination rate just below 70 per cent.

"Obviously, our vaccination rate is not up to par with the rest of the country and the province of Quebec, some of our people are still choosing not to get vaccinated, which is their choice," Whiteduck said.

He said vaccinations are slowly increasing after they started a contest in October for community members with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Up for grabs before the end of the year are $10,000 cash prize and an ATV. In total $50,000 have been put towards the rewards, which include weekly cash prizes for adults and laptops offered for teens who get vaccinated.

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