By Victoria Gray
Six Nations is mourning its third COVID-19 related death as cases rise.
COVID-19 infections continue to surge on Six Nations, soaring almost three times higher than the infection rate in Toronto.
There were 15 new cases announced Tuesday from the Family Day long weekend and five on Friday bringing the total number of active cases in territory to 44.
There have been 68 new cases added in the last 10 days, bringing Six Nations total positive cases to 243. There have now been three deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
Indigenous adults in Ontario have been prioritized in Ontario’s list of priority populations for the Phase 1 roll out of Ontario’s vaccine distribution plan
Six Nations has not released its plan for community-wide vaccinations.
The Ontario government has issued a memo to the province’s regional medical officers of health spelling out who’s next in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The province offered new guidance to regional medical officers of health as supply of the COVID-19 vaccines starts to gradually increase.
The province says all residents of long-term care homes have had an opportunity to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Those remaining in the immediate priority groups for the first dose are set to receive their vaccine dose next.
- Staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes.
- Patients in hospitals who have a confirmed admission to a long-term care home, retirement home or other congregate care home for seniors.
- Highest-priority health-care workers — such as paramedics and staff in critical care units, emergency departments and COVID-19 medical units — followed by very high priority health-care workers — such as those in surgical care, obstetrics, assisted living facilities and palliative care settings. These categories are laid out in the Ministry of Health’s guidance on health care worker prioritization.
- Indigenous adults in northern, remote and higher-risk communities, including on-reserve and urban communities.
Ontario says the next groups in line for a vaccine will receive their shots “when all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first-dose vaccinations’’ for the first priority group.
- Adults 80 years of age and older.
- Staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors.
- Health-care workers who the Ministry of Health has categorized as “high priority,’’ such as staff in mental health and addictions services, and sexual health clinics.
- All Indigenous adults.
- Adult recipients of chronic home care.
The province also laid out intervals for when to administer the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Those who live in long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes should get the second dose 21 to 27 days after receiving the first, as should residents of other types of congregate care homes for seniors and people 80 years and older.
Everyone else should receive the second dose between 35 and 42 days after getting the first shot.
Since Christmas Six Nations has experienced a steady incline of cases, with more than 100 cases since December 25.
There are now 369 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people on Six Nations, an infection rate almost triple that of Toronto, still sitting at 142 per 100,000.
Since the provincial lockdown on December 27, cases in surrounding areas have dwindled, leaving Brantford with 22 cases per 100,000, Haldimand-Nofolk with 30 cases per 100,000 and Hamilton with 84 per 100,000 people. Brantford reported 13 cases for the week ending Feb 14. That’s the lowest the city has reported since October 18.
Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) and Six Nations Health have previously sent out a press release urging people not to cross the border into the United States and possibly bring infections back after Six Nations Police Services experienced an increase in the amount of requests they were receiving from Canadian Border Services to check on people to ensure they were isolating. Six Nations Police noted not all those who returned from cross-border travel were following the rules, but those people were not subject to fines.
Canada Border Services told Turtle Island News that 123,771 people identifying as First Nations people, entered Canada between March 2020 and December 2020, of those 119,264 Indigenous identifying people entered into an Ontario port. Of those Indigenous people who entered Ontario, 4 per cent came across in southern Ontario.
Between January 1 and 31 almost 14,000 First Nations people crossed the border into Canada. Of those, 13,345 people were entering Ontario ports, but less than 3 per cent entered in Southern Ontario.
SNEC and Six Nations Health Services have also urged all those who attended Mid Winter ceremonies at Longhouse to get tested for COVID-19. Candice Lickers, communications for SNEC, told the Hamilton Spectator that SNEC knew the ceremonies were happening amid the Black Level Alert Status, wherein people are not supposed to gather with anyone outside of their household. She also said SNEC provided PPE to those who attended ceremonies.
The Six Nations Assessment Centre is pumping out tests having completed 107 last week with only one person waiting for results currently.
The age group of those affected continues to be those from aged 20-39 and 40-64 and females continue to be most affected with 51.7 per cent of infections while males make up 48.2 per cent of the infections.