Communities in northern Saskatchewan are noticing a wave of new cases of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) posted there were 39 active cases of COVID-19 in its area. Five days earlier, on Oct. 8, there were only 10 active cases.
Northern First Nations are concerned about an increase of cases due to the remote locations of some communities and potential overcrowding in homes.
Communities have already begun to take action. This week, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band's community of Stanley Mission implemented a roadblock and a curfew to stop the spread of the virus.
Stanley Mission has managed to keep the total number of cases at six, but other communities within Lac La Ronge have not been as lucky.
The Little Red River reserve now has seven active cases and La Ronge has two active cases.
"There's a lot of uncertainty and people are worried," said Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson. "We try and reassure them. We try and provide the support that they need," she said.
Red Earth Cree Nation reports 10 cases
The spike in cases is not limited to one First Nation. According to a Facebook post from the band's public health unit, the Red Earth Cree Nation has 10 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning.
NITHA has declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the community and is linking those cases to a wedding that was held on the reserve Oct. 9.
Red Earth closed its health centre Wednesday to free up staff for drive-through mass testing in the community.
Last weekend, the community brought in a 72-hour lockdown and closed all public buildings in an attempt to slow the virus's spread.
Best solution is tried and true measures
Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, medical health officer for NITHA, said the best solution to stopping the rise of cases is to rely on tried and true measures such as masking, social distancing and staying at home.
"All communities have done well so far during the initial wave," he said. "We don't need to let our guard down at this point. It's the time when we all need to be more vigilant."
Ndubuka said with the reopening of schools, as well as the looming flu season, everyone needs to be even more careful.
"If people don't follow the rules, then we run the risk of resurgence," he said. "This is not the time to give up."
Ndubuka said he was impressed with Stanley Mission's efforts to keep the spread of COVID-19 limited.
"The chief and council have already moved very quickly to impose travel restrictions in the community," he said.
"And there's a lot of communication and awareness that is happening through social media and also through the local radio station."
The Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority is a partnership between the Prince Albert Grand Council, Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, and Lac La Ronge Indian Band and works to help health-care delivery in northern Saskatchewan.