First countries facing labor challenges due to COVID-19 surge are powered by Omicron
Many First Nations around the country are bracing for the spread of the Omicron variant as leaders prepare for COVID-19 labor shortages that could worsen in indigenous communities.
“We knew well that Omicron was coming,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Council of Chiefs of Manitoba.
There were fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 cases stocked across the country ahead of the holiday season, but that number quickly spiked.
In Manitoba alone over the past week, there have been 1,388 new COVID-19 cases among First Nations people, showing data from the First Nations COVID-19 task force released today Friday.
There are more than 40 indigenous communities in the province with many cases of the disease despite many with high vaccination rates.
According to Mr. Dumas, First Nations may not be immune to COVID-19-related labor shortages in healthcare, policing and other public sectors across the country. But the effects could be much more significant, he added.
“What has happened in the past is you have all the water plant operators infected with COVID or quarantined, but that function still needs to be served to the people,” Mr. Dumas said.
To slow the spread, at least 10 First Nations in Manitoba have implemented travel restrictions or lockdowns.
While the Delta variant remains dominant in the First Nations in Manitoba, the task force said it is expected to be overtaken by Omicron next week.
“The Omicron variant has passed through Manitoba in an unprecedented way,” Grand Chief Garrison Settee, who represents the northern First Nations in Manitoba, said in a press release. “Our leaders are working tirelessly to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure essential services are available to community members.”
Settee added that a lack of healthcare workers is affecting some citizens of First Nations access to a third COVID-19 vaccine.
Both police chiefs said they were in contact with federal and provincial officials.
The First Nations in the northwest of Ontario also recently introduced significant restrictions. The first countries in the Sioux observation area announced the closure of the region to limit the Omicron variant because none of the first 33 countries had hospitals.
Local health authorities say that means they face the imminent threat of overloading public health resources.
Half of the population of Bearskin Lake First Nation tested positive for COVID-19 this week, leaving large portions of the community isolated.
Police Chief Lefty Kamenawatamin on Friday said only about 30 frontline workers in remote communities can deliver water, groceries and other essential supplies to those in isolation.
“The situation at Bearskin Lake clearly shows the disproportion of COVID-19’s impact on First Nations,” Dr Lloyd Douglas, a public health physician with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, said in a statement. newsletter this week.
“These impacts are devastating First Nations communities, who are facing massive infrastructure shortages, boiling water advice, overcrowding and complex health conditions. “
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said on Friday that the government will do whatever it can to support Indigenous communities facing the COVID-19 crises.
First Nations health experts say they are still watching to see the impact of Omicron and the challenges this variant could bring to indigenous communities during the latest pandemic.
The second and third waves saw higher rates of infection, hospitalization and death among Indigenous people than in many areas of the country.
That’s why they’re approaching decisions more cautiously, even as some provinces reduce quarantine requirements, says Dr Marcia Anderson, of the First Nation pandemic response team. 5 days.
She said there could be significant risks in bringing people who are still potentially infectious out of quarantine due to the higher-risk settings in the First Nations.
“The COVID virus spreads very easily due to underlying factors like overcrowded housing,” Anderson said in an online video on Friday.
“We want to be more cautious in making these changes,” she added.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on January 8, 2022.