Isolating Sahtu community members urge others to take outbreak seriously

As communities in the N.W.T manage the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the territory to date, residents of Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake urge others to comply with containment orders and public health restrictions.

'COVID is real. People can die from it.'

Isabel Orlias has been isolating with her family in Colville Lake. While she says the high number of COVID-19 cases has been scary, now is the time for the communities to come together show support. (Submitted by Isabel Orlias)

A woman in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. who has tested positive for COVID-19 is urging her community to take public health measures seriously. 

Lesli Kisoun said she and her boyfriend and their three-month-old baby have all tested positive for the virus. They're among 86 people in the community to test positive as of Friday evening. 

Despite the containment orders in Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake — which have been hit hardest by the recent surge in cases — Kisoun said many people are still going out after curfew and ignoring mandates to isolate. 

As part of the growing number of infected residents, she wants people to know the virus and its effects are serious.

She also acknowledged some people think the virus is fake. 

"I just want people to know that COVID is real. People can die from it."

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Fort Good Hope Chief Tommy Kakfwi said Saturday morning he was expecting help from the Canadian Red Cross as early as Sunday, while MP Michael McLeod said the Canadian Armed Forces was also being deployed. 

Kisoun said having the military in the community would help enforce curfews and keep residents inside. 

'We all should support one and other'

As a fully vaccinated patient, Kisoun said her symptoms are mild and resemble that of a common cold. She suspects others without the vaccine may be feeling worse.

She's encouraging people who are isolating to reach out for help to access food and other necessities.

Lesli Kisoun said she, her boyfriend and her baby are among 86 residents of Fort Good Hope who have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday evening. She's assuring those with doubts that the virus is real. (Submitted by Lesli Kisoun)

Kisoun said receiving essentials from Dene Nation has been a huge help to her family.

"We got water, we got my baby formula and everything just by reaching out to people and letting them know that they're in isolation and we need food."

Isabel Orlias, a resident of Colville Lake, is another young mother who is currently isolating with her family. 

She said her first reaction to the outbreak was fear and shock. She said it's served as a reminder about how quickly the virus can spread. 

"I'm worried for the kids and the elders and those that have medical issues," she said. "Me and my family have been praying everyday hoping that nobody has any bad symptoms."

The territorial government reported Friday that hospitalizations from the recent COVID-19 outbreak has been fewer than five. The N.W.T. and Prince Edward Island remain the only two Canadian jurisdictions where no COVID-19 related deaths have been reported

Orlias has taken to social media to help circulate information about the outbreak.

"That's one of the fastest ways we can get messages out there," she said. 

Along with news of updated protocols and vaccine clinics, Orlias said spreading the message of unity is also critical. 

"I just hope all the communities can come together and help one and other in the Sahtu," she said. "It's scary and uncertain times and this is a time when we all should support one and other."

With files from Alex Brockman