Nipissing First Nation reports positive COVID case at business on territory

·4 min read

Nipissing First Nation, east of North Bay, is reporting a person who works at a business on the territory has tested positive for COVID-19.

In a news release issued Monday March 29, the territory stated that it is notifying customers and employees of Green Medicine located at 120 Commanda Cres. in Dushesnay near North Bay, that the potential exposure dates include March 12 and 13, March 15 to 20 and March 22 to 27. It has not been made clear whether the employee also lives on the territory.

The release stated that people who may have had close contact have been advised to immediately self-isolate, self-monitor and to get tested for COVID-19 if symptoms arise or on day ten of exposure. Only individuals identified as a close contact will be contacted by Nipissing First Nation Health Services. The release stated that no personal health information will be released.

According to Gen Couchie, communications officer for Nipissing First Nation, there is a new Ministry of Health guideline around testing and clearance guidelines for close contacts of a positive case.

“The recommendation is that if a close contact still does not have symptoms on day 10 of self-isolation they should get tested for COVID-19 anyway. This is because they estimate that for every one positive case there are three to four asymptomatic people,” Couchie stated in an email.

The release stated that isolation means individuals are to remain on their property and avoid contact with others for a minimum of 14 days even if they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

“This includes self-isolating from others in your home. Community Health Nurses will be conducting regular followup with close contacts for the duration of the isolation period,” the release stated. “Customers using curbside or delivery services are considered a low-risk exposure and are not required to self-isolate.”

The release also stated that owners of Green Medicine, an alternative health food and wellness store, are taking extra precautions, including closing the business for two weeks from Monday, March 29 until Monday, April 12.

This is the second COVID scare on the First Nation. Earlier this year, an employee of the cannabis store that operates on the territory came down with the coronavirus. That worker and others employed at the store all self-isolated for two weeks. The store itself also closed for several days. It has since reopened and the worker has recovered. The First Nation also held its first round of vaccinations for Elders and other vulnerable people back in February.

In its release, the First Nation points out that on Dec. 24, 2020 a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act was enacted in this public health district.

“Individuals not complying with self-isolation requirements can be subject to legal action. If you believe someone who is required to self-isolate for COVID-19 is not following the class order you can call the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit at 1-800-563-2808 option 5,” the release stated. “It is imperative that people continue follow public health guidance to prevent further spread of the COVID-19, including washing hands, physical distancing, wearing a face covering that fully covers the nose, mouth and chin and staying within your households.”

The First Nation goes on to state that if residents are concerned about a potential exposure, they are to contact Carole Lafantaisie, community health nurse at Nipissing First Nation Health Services at 705-870-8830. Other inquiries may be directed to Kimberly Lalonde, director of health services at 705-498-3698.

The Nipissing First Nation offices remain closed to the public to mitigate risks as the pandemic continues to evolve. Some services are still being offered curbside and drop boxes are available at the administration building’s main entrance.

Visit the Nipissing First Nation website at nfn.ca/covid19 for regular updates and links to helpful information.

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, Orillia Today