Saskatchewan

Indigenous communities in Sask. seeing more COVID-19 cases than in any other province

First Nations in Saskatchewan have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021.

As of Feb. 14, Indigenous Services Canada estimates vaccine uptake in First Nations communities at 75%

Lac La Ronge Indian Band Coun. Gerald McKenzie gets a COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 8, 2021. As of Feb. 23, Indigenous Services Canada reported that more than 103,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. (Submitted by Gerald McKenzie)

First Nations in Saskatchewan have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021.

According to Indigenous Services Canada, during the first seven weeks of 2021, there were 2,779 new cases in reserves in Saskatchewan — more than in any other province.

By comparison, in that same time period, there were 2,290 cases on reserves in Manitoba and 2,389 in Alberta.

In a Wednesday news release, Indigenous Services said it is "closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases reported in First Nations communities across the country." 

However, there is some good news — active case counts are declining, and there has not yet been a confirmed case of any of the new coronavirus variants of concern on reserve.

Vaccine deliveries are also ramping up, and as of Feb. 23, Indigenous Services reported that more than 103,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Indigenous communities throughout Canada. 

In Saskatchewan, as of Feb. 14, the federal department estimates that vaccine uptake in First Nations communities was at or above 75 per cent.

Indigenous Services also said it is working to support the vaccine rollout for Indigenous adults living in urban areas. 

"ISC is working closely with [the] National Association of Friendship Centres, as well as provinces and territories, First Nation, Inuit and Métis partners, and other urban community service organizations to support planning efforts," the department said in its news release this week.

"This includes working to identify barriers, challenges and opportunities for increasing vaccine uptake and ensuring the vaccine is available in culturally safe and accessible locations."

According to the department, vaccine clinics for Indigenous adults are currently being planned for Saskatoon and Regina.

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