By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Cases of the COVID-19 virus, including the highly contagious Delta variant, are dropping precipitously across the country as federal officials and First Nations leaders alike have teamed up to send the message that vaccination is a must and shouldn’t wait any longer.
More than 86 percent of eligible recipients in First Nations communities across Canada have received their first dose of the vaccine, while better than 64 percent of eligible recipients have gotten their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Federal officials reported the Delta variant accounted for over 70 percent of COVID-19 variants in Canada. The Delta variant is more transmissible than the other strains of the virus and may be more severe, requiring full immunization for better protection. Following public health measures and full immunization are imperative during this time of reopening, officials said.
At present, there are 279 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities from coast to coast to coast.
The virus has been responsible for 395 deaths, ISC officials added.
As of July 30, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 20 First Nations communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario affected by COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. In Ontario, there are no active COVID-19 cases in Kashechewan First Nation, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the community’s leadership and other federal, provincial, health and non-governmental organization partners, ISC officials said.
In addition, a further vaccination-awareness program has been launched to further insulate communities from the virus, ISC officials said in a statement.
`More than 100 community-driven projects are being launched to promote vaccine confidence and reinforce public health measures, including 25 projects by Indigenous communities. These initiatives will take place across the country, in various Indigenous languages,’ the statement said.
The pockets of outbreaks that had popped up in Manitoba and Ontario earlier this summer have been quashed, and an outbreak of the gamma variant in the Yukon has been brought under control as well, officials said.
`The current risk to Yukon residents remains low. The active case count has now dropped below 100, and new cases per day continue to be fewer than 10,’ and as of last week, the territory has dropped its indoor mask mandate and eliminated physical-distancing requirements in restaurants and bars, ISC officials added.
Marc Lalonde is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the IORI:WASE. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.