Sagkeeng First Nation says an outbreak of the highly contagious delta variant has spread through the community’s care home affecting about two-thirds of its residents.
As of Friday, there are 23 active cases of COVID-19 in the community, and all of them are in George M. Guimond Care Centre, according to a Facebook update from the First Nation.
Of those 23 cases, 19 are residents and 4 are staff, says Chief Derrick Henderson. There are 30 beds in the long-term care facility, he added.
Luckily, most of the people are fully vaccinated and are therefore only experiencing mild symptoms, he said.
The province declared an outbreak at the care centre the day before, but on Friday, Sagkeeng First Nation said the cases are linked to the delta variant, also known as B.1617.2.
There are no known active cases outside of the care home at the moment, but Henderson says he’s strongly encouraging everyone to take every precaution to avoid spread in the community, including using his platform on a weekly radio show to promote vaccinations.
“I’m encouraging our members to please get the vaccination because our children aren’t vaccinated, right? And they will be going back to school in a week and a half,” he said.
“They’re the ones that are most vulnerable right now. There’s no vaccination for young kids and that’s a bit concerning.”
Some experts suggest delta may be spreading 50 per cent faster than the alpha variant first found in the U.K. — and that variant is considered 50 per cent more infectious than the original strain.
Manitoba’s public health officials have said the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the delta variant, and to avoid serious outcomes like hospitalization and death is to get vaccinated.
Just 34 per cent of eligible members of the First Nation have both doses of the vaccine, Henderson says.
He says a number of preventative measures are still in place in the community about 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, but vaccines remain a key way to overcoming the pandemic.
“We can’t force people to take the vaccination, but the vaccination is important to reduce transmission, and we know that the delta variant is here and the vaccination is also proven to reduce the seriousness of the illness amongst people that become exposed and become sick,” Henderson said.
“I still want to get the message out there because it’s our young people that I’m concerned about.”
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