OHSWEKEN, Ont. — Public health officials in Six Nations of the Grand River say the Indigenous community is "in crisis" after a recent rise in cases of COVID-19.
A band council statement says there are now 14 active and 33 probable cases in the community in southwestern Ontario.
Six Nations reported five confirmed and two probable cases on its website last Friday.
The council said the spike in cases is associated with private gatherings, and band members travelling from event to event against public health advice.
"Some members that attended gatherings are symptomatic but not seeking testing, placing the community at a seriously heightened risk of exposure," said elected Chief Mark Hill. "Please get tested if you are unsure, it is better to be safe than sorry."
Lori Davis Hill, director of health services, said that staff at Ohsweken Public Health and Six Nations Health Services are overworked as they deal with the increase in cases.
"Our health care staff are exhausted, and contact-tracing is not yet complete," said Davis Hill. "Health care perspectives and advice can't be ignored; they are working around the clock to keep us safe."
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Six Nations' emergency control group decided to close the territorial borders to non-band members.
Six Nations later relaxed its safety protocols along with the rest of Ontario, but the band council says its emergency control group is now considering restoring some of the earlier restrictions.
Six Nations is a predominantly Haudenosaunee community of nearly 13,000 people.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.
The Canadian Press