By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Federal officials are starting to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after the new COVID-19 case count in First Nations communities dropped again this week, as many provinces start to remove the last of the mandated sanitary restrictions from daily life.
Indigenous Services Canada reported 2,627 new COVID-19 cases, down from 2,878 last week, while the death toll rose by 17 to 681, sadly.
In a statement, Indigenous Services Canada said the department `commends the tireless work of community leadership and frontline healthcare workers for their immense and ongoing contributions to their communities’ pandemic response. Their efforts and quick action continue to save lives. First Nations, Inuit and Metis across the country have access to vaccines through vaccine clinics, which are well underway in Indigenous communities,’ the statement said.
Vaccination efforts continue across the country as ISC is in the process of supporting a number of Indigenous communities.
As of March 9, more than 88 percent of individuals aged 12 and older in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities have received a second dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, and over 27 percent have received a booster dose. More than half of children aged 5 to 11 have received at least one dose.
Currently, 3,016 people in First Nations communities are in hospital with COVID-19, but the statistics do not differentiate from primary or secondary infections.
At present, ISC officials are supporting vaccination efforts in Kashechewan First Nation and Attawapiskat First Nation until at least March 16. Kasabonika Lake First Nation will receive support until at least March 11, as will Mishkeegogamang First Nation.
Elsewhere, ISC is providing support to. ISC is supporting Ueushuk Fisheries Ltd. ? a business owned jointly by both Innu First Nation communities in Labrador ? in transporting crew members in response to pandemic travel restrictions. COVID-19 has impacted fishery operations in many ways, including the challenge and expense of crew travel. It will help Ueushuk Fisheries adapt their regular operations to minimize the risk exposure for crew while travelling to and from the vessel and to their communities during the fishing season. ISC is providing $202,657 under the Indigenous Community Business Fund for the transportation of crew members in response to pandemic travel restrictions.
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.