By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Indigenous communities across Canada as new active cases of the virus are back on the rise once again, federal authorities announced last week.
Indigenous Services Canada reported 2,766 new active cases of the novel coronavirus in First Nations communities this week, up from
2,384 last week.
The death toll climbed to 689 deaths related to the virus since 2020, up three from last week.
Authorities are asking people to continue to wash your hands, maintain social distance where possible and wear a mask as often as possible in order to curb the new wave of the virus, largely being fuelled by the Omicron BA.2 subvariant.
Vaccination rates remained roughly stable, with support to remote Indigenous communities from the Canadian Armed Forces in setting up vaccine clinics and supporting health-care workers.
Nearly 90 percent of all First Nations and Inuit people have been fully vaccinated with two doses, and nearly 30 percent of those have received a booster shot.
ISC reported in a statement `As of March 29, over 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 29 percent have received a third dose.’
In addition, more than half, 52 percent — of First Nations children aged 5 to 11 have received at least one dose.
In a statement, ISC said support continues to be made available to First Nations communities as needed.
Across the country, Indigenous Services Canada’s regional offices and regional medical officers of health remain available to assist Indigenous communities and organizations should they require immediate assistance with an outbreak or require supports such as temporary infrastructure, rapid testing or personal protective equipment.
Indigenous communities and organizations can also continue to request needs-based funding from the Indigenous Community Support Fund. This fund provides Indigenous leadership and organizations with the flexibility needed to design and implement community-based solutions to prevent, prepare for and respond to the spread of COVID-19 within their communities.
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.