The chief of the Magnetawan First Nation, north of Parry Sound, said his territory has now had nine COVID-19 cases, up one from last week’s report. However, Chief William Diabo said only one of those cases is active and that person is scheduled to come out of self-isolation by New Year’s Eve.
Diabo concedes that is a high number of positive diagnosis for a community of about 110 residents. But he is satisfied the territory is doing what it can to keep the spread of the coronavirus to a minimum. All nine cases were diagnosed in December, the latest on Dec. 17. All nine people are members of the same extended family. They did not all live in the same household.
“With all the testing we’ve done, (health officials) have declared that eight cases are now cleared so we only have one which, hopefully, will be cleared by midnight on Dec. 31. If all is well, then Magnetawan will be deemed to have cleared all nine cases,” the chief said. “Public Health (North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit) has been on top of it. They’ve followed up with the cases so they’ve been under control. They’ve been monitoring the individuals throughout the process.”
Chief Diabo said that by the new year the infected members of the territory will no longer be infectious and they won’t likely spread the virus. He pointed out that of the nine cases, only one person had to go to hospital and was discharged within a couple of days. The original eight people who contracted the virus have recovered and the ninth person is doing OK.
“I think we’ve weathered the storm. It’s been confined to one extended family environment on the First Nation. The State of Emergency and the lockdown are still in place. Magnetawan is following the Ontario lockdown guidelines imposed on Boxing Day,” the chief said.
Magnetawan First Nation is considered by the province to be in northern Ontario, so it only has a 14-day lockdown, not the 28 days imposed on people and communities in southern Ontario.
The territory’s gas bar and Tim Hortons drive-thru are scheduled to reopen on Jan. 4.
“They will reopen with all the safeguards in place. The access will be limited. They will be doing everything to ensure the safety of customers and staff,” he said.
The band office and the health centre will not reopen at least until Jan. 11.
The chief said the territory made sure that none of its 37 residents under the age of 17 went without Christmas presents as gifts were distributed by First Nation volunteers to homes where they live.
He added that he is very appreciative of the help that Sobeys and the Parry Sound Rotary Club have given the territory in delivering food to community members. Diabo said the territory has helped do that as well, adding that co-operation is the only way to safely get through the global pandemic.
The chief said that he has no definitive word, as yet, as to when the COVID vaccine will arrive at the territory but he is confident it will happen in January.
John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star