Manitoba

Military help arrives in Garden Hill First Nation to battle 'alarming spike' in COVID-19

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have arrived in Garden Hill First Nation to help battle a COVID-19 outbreak, which saw 38 new cases of the virus on Tuesday.

24 members of the Canadian Armed Forces arrived on Wednesday

Twenty-four members of the Canadian Armed Forces landed in Garden Hill First Nation on Wednesday. (Submitted by Dino Flett)

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have arrived in Garden Hill First Nation to help fight what federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller called a "very, very alarming spike" in COVID-19 cases.

The northern Manitoba community had 290 active cases as of Tuesday, said Alex McDougall, executive director of Four Arrows Regional Health Authority, including 38 new cases announced that day.

Miller and Indigenous Services deputy minister Christiane Fox were guests on a Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Facebook Live conversation on Wednesday.

Fox said 24 members of the Canadian Armed Forces arrived Wednesday and will help the community contain the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

They will provide "immediate assistance to the local health authorities to provide medical care and support for isolation, including the establishment of a local alternate isolation area in the community," she said.

"We're also going to provide support and training for those who will work inside the isolation space."

WATCH | Military members arrive in Garden Hill First Nation:

Military help arrives in Garden Hill First Nation

CBC News Manitoba

3 months ago
2:17
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have arrived in Garden Hill First Nation to help battle a COVID-19 outbreak, which saw 38 new cases of the virus on Tuesday. 2:17

Miller says the spike in cases at Garden Hill is worrisome, but the federal government will "be there every step of the way" to help.

Members of the military arrived in Garden Hill First Nation — a fly-in community about 475 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg — on Sunday to assess the situation there. The community, with a population of around 2,600, is under lockdown.

The Four Arrows Regional Health Authority's McDougall said doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have now been delivered to all four Island Lake Anishininew Nation communities — Garden Hill, Red Sucker Lake, St. Theresa Point and Wasagamack First Nations — and immunization has begun.

Chief Dino Flett holds a box of the Moderna vaccine as it arrives in Garden Hill First Nation. (Submitted by Dino Flett)

"Our region received approximately 900 vials of the 5,300 allocated to Manitoba First Nation communities," he said.

The pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty and fear among residents, McDougall said. 

"Our communities have had to airlift members with more severe respiratory symptoms," he said.

"We have lost community members to not only COVID-19, but also to suicide that are linked to this pandemic and mental health issues that are on the rise," McDougall said. 

'Total lockdown' in Garden Hill

Garden Hill community member Clara Monias says everything is closed to contain the spread.

"We're doing good and coping with this lockdown, but our community is having problems due to not being able to shop. People are running out of food," she said on CBC Radio's Up To Speed on Wednesday.

She's relieved the military is there.

"We need to contain our spread of virus in the community," she said. "Things are getting out of hand, and I'm glad these military are coming to our community to help."

Monias was one of the first 900 people in the community to receive the Moderna vaccine.

With files from Nelly Gonzalez

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