First Nations community plans to isolate itself in event of pandemic
An Indian reserve in Saskatchewan says its plan in the event of a pandemic of the kind that could result from the current outbreak of swine flu is to hunker down and keep the community sealed from outside contact.
The pandemic plan drafted by the Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation, about 100 kilometres north of Saskatoon, is centred around taking advantage of the community's relative isolation.
If the world is caught up in a pandemic, the reserve will put itself in quarantine.
"Initially, we will go under quarantine," Jaya Cameron, a band councilor on the reserve told CBC News. "And, yes, we're going to have road blocks put up at our entrances. But, of course, our community members living in urban centre will have a chance to come back."
The Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation has about 3,000 members, with roughly 1,700 living on reserve.
Wilson Sutherland, the band's director of health, said one priority is to ensure there is help for the elderly and people in ill health.
"We set up different places where people can go if they have no care at home," Sutherland said.
Remi Mike, a band councillor who is on the pandemic planning committee, said the committee wants families on the reserve to talk about the plan and be informed.
"Our families need to be prepared, and that's all we are trying to stress here: the preparedness," Mike said. "[People should] get ready for this. It's going to happen."
The Beardy's and Okemasis plan, which has been drawn up into formal documents, is being shared with other first nations in Saskatchewan.
The outbreak of the H1N1 influenza A virus began a few weeks ago in Mexico and has since spread to several other countries, including Canada.