Nova Scotia

First COVID-19 cases detected in Nova Scotia First Nation

Two cases of COVID-19 were found in Sipekne'katik First Nation in Nova Scotia. It's the first time COVID-19 has been detected on a First Nation in Atlantic Canada.

2 cases were found in Sipekne'katik First Nation in the province's northern zone

The two cases of COVID-19 in Sipekne'katik First Nation represent the first coronavirus cases on a First Nation in Atlantic Canada. (Robert Short/CBC)

Two cases of COVID-19 have been found in Sipekne'katik First Nation in Nova Scotia's northern health zone.

It's the first time the virus has been detected on a First Nation in Atlantic Canada.

Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack told CBC News he found out about the cases Wednesday afternoon. When asked if he was concerned, his answer was "yes and no."

"We didn't want to get it — nobody does, of course — but it happened, so I think if we plan accordingly and take the proper steps, we'll push right through it," he said.

There is little information about the two cases, or how they may have contracted the coronavirus, but Sack said they are self-isolating. He asked that people respect their privacy and not try to find out who they are.

"I don't want anybody to feel like they're alienated or whatnot. Nobody goes out looking for it," he said. "I just hope the people that did get it do their part, self-isolate and don't jeopardize anyone else's health."

Sipekne'katik is the second-largest Mi'kmaw band in Nova Scotia and has approximately 1,244 members living in the community, according to its website. A further 1,344 members reside outside of the community.

Sack said access to health care in Sipekne'katik is "very good," and the First Nation has its own health centre with doctors, nurses and dentists.

He urged that members continue to follow public health protocols by masking, sanitizing, and avoiding large gatherings and non-essential travel.

Chief Sack is asking people to continue following public health protocols. (CBC)

Contact tracing is underway by Public Health but initial findings suggest the virus was contracted from outside the community, according to a statement released by the band Thursday. So far, only a small number of contacts have been identified.

"We do not anticipate closing our community to people outside Sipekne'katik at this time. However, we are going to continue to monitor the situation closely and work directly with Public Health," Sack said in the statement.

According to Indigenous Services Canada, as of Dec. 1, there have been 4,069 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in First Nations in Canada, the majority of which are in the Prairie provinces.

As of Wednesday evening, those numbers have not been updated to reflect the cases in Sipekne'katik.