COVID-19 Daily News Digest – Jan 12, 2020
NOSM dean ‘inspired’ by opportunity to help vaccinate remote First Nations
“They recognize we have relationships, we know the geography, we know the people, we have expertise,” said Dr. Sarita Verma, dean, president and CEO of NOSM.
“We’re one of the very few institutions that has networked across the north in a pan-northern way.”
“When I got the call, I was extremely honoured and proud of my medical school, I don’t know of any other medical schools that are engaged in this kind of way,” Verma said.
“As the leader of a school that has a mandate and social accountability, I can’t tell you how inspired I feel for our school, our students. Everybody wants to be part of the solution. This is such a remarkable way for us to — not only be part of a transformative stage in Canada’s health history — but to actually learn in a public health way.”
Coronavirus outbreak declared at Canim Lake, First Nations community issues lockdown
“The Canim Lake First Nation has taken extraordinary efforts to ensure public health and safety and are working collaboratively with neighboring communities to mitigate the risk factors associated with the rapid transmission of the virus.”
Chief and council of the Canim Lake Band approved a motion on Jan. 8 to lock down their community in response to the discovery of nine cases of COVID-19 among members at the time, it said in a news release.
Montana adds 228 COVID-19 cases Monday, report shows coronavirus impact on Native Americans
According to the report, mortality rates among Native American residents was 11.6 times higher than that of non-Hispanic white residents. Additionally, the median age of death for Native Americans was 68, compared to the median age of death for non-Hispanic whites of 82 years old.
These disparities are a product of long-term disinvestment in Indigenous communities.
The report cited shared housing, inadequate health care and lower household income as factors contributing to the virus’ disproportionate effect on Native Americans.
‘We Don’t Feel Forgotten At All’: Alaska Fires Up COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Rural Alaska’s obstacles are at another level. Dozens of remote villages lack any connection to roads or hospitals, and ultracold freezers are essentially nonexistent.
Those problems, however, have not thwarted the vaccine’s delivery. Instead, bolstered by special shipments for Alaska Native tribes, providers have mobilized a massive effort that’s delivering thousands of doses to remote parts of the state.
Those efforts have helped give Alaska one of the highest vaccination rates in the country with rural and Indigenous residents getting access to shots at levels that meet or even exceed those in Alaska’s cities. Public health experts say that’s appropriate because of tribes’ federally recognized sovereignty and because COVID-19 has hit rural areas and Alaska Native people especially hard.
COVID-19 vaccinations for remote and vulnerable Indigenous populations a ‘massive challenge’ of logistics
For any vaccine to prevent that from happening, according to Dr Andrew Webster from the Darwin-based Danila Dilba Health Service, vaccination rates in remote populations will need to be higher than that of a typical flu vaccine.
“To get really good protection across the community, you need 60 to 70 per cent of the entire population to be vaccinated before you have enough herd immunity to protect the very vulnerable people in the community from getting it,” he said.
Coronavirus: More than half Manitoba’s active COVID-19 cases are in First Nations population
Vaccine distribution has begun on a handful of Manitoba reserves as a task force reports that 61 per cent of the people with active COVID-19 in the province are First Nations.
Manitoba’s First Nation COVID-19 pandemic response team says as of Monday there were 1,578 active COVID-19 cases on reserves and 514 in off-reserve First Nations populations.
Ontario Native Women’s Association launches program for human trafficking survivors
And so, with funding from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, ONWA has developed and expanded the Aakode’ewin – Courage for Change Program across Ontario to address unique needs of the disproportionate number of Indigenous women and girls affected by human trafficking.
“About 10 years ago, when we started to build a relationship with survivors, we realized that there were no services for them,” said McGuire-Cyrette. “It was very clear and evident that regular programming and services does not meet their needs, the situation and issues that they’re facing.”
COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in remote northern Ontario communities
“I was really encouraged when I heard that so many of them gave their consent to take this vaccine, and that should be a message to all of us.”
Fiddler said public education will be a key part in spreading awareness about the vaccine, correcting misinformation and easing apprehensions about it as it begins to roll out across the territory.
“It’s important that we do this in a good way, in a safe way, and in a way that all of our citizens in Nishnawbe Aski Nation can absorb all this information,” he said.
He said they want to make sure information is available in English, Cree, Oji-Cree and Ojibway.
COVID outbreak at Oneida of the Thames grows to 33 cases
A community curfew within Oneida Nation of the Thames went into effect at 8 p.m. Sunday. No social gatherings will be permitted and only essential businesses will be allowed to open. Fines of up to $750 will be issued to anyone who hosts a social gathering, Chrisjohn said.
The curfew will be in place for two weeks and then re-evaluated by the Oneida Health team to determine if the number of cases is declining.
Smokers face heightened risk of COVID-19, Nunavut’s Health Department warns
“Having lung problems from smoking might increase the risk of getting COVID-19 and may make some symptoms of the illness worse,” the Government of Nunavut said in a news release Jan. 7, during the kick-off of its annual campaign for tobacco reduction month.
Smoking and sharing cigarettes and cannabis joints makes it easier for the virus to spread, according to the release.
Nunavut’s Health Department also recommends not touching your face or mouth with your hands while smoking, avoiding sharing cigarettes, joints, pipes and vaporizers, and says not to pick up discarded cigarette or cannabis butts.
#WeSeeYou day shines light on remote Indigenous communities
The project has since grown to involve more ideas for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to learn from each other.
Monday’s #WeSeeYou Day will involve a social media takeover of the hashtag, letting Indigenous youth know that they are seen and heard.
Ballantyne has also been sending activity boxes to Indigenous youth and communities affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.
They include beading and colouring supplies, as well as other craft supplies.
Maskwacis continues to struggle with COVID-19 outbreak
‘Our only hope is the vaccine and getting access to that, which the government says we’re supposed to as a priority nation. But we’re certainly not getting that very quickly,” he says.
“They have a treaty obligation to provide it to us. There is a clause called the Medicine Chest Clause and it says in cases of famine and pestilence the government or Crown is supposed to provide aid for the First Nations. A pandemic is pestilence.”