Saskatchewan

Northern Sask. community of Southend reports province's 3rd presumptive case of COVID-19

The community of Southend, located roughly 450 kilometres north of Prince Albert, is reporting a presumptive case of COVID-19, the third such case in Sask.

Nurse, who worked in local clinic, tested positive for COVID-19: Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief

The north Sask. community of Southend is reporting a presumptive case of COVID-19, according to a letter sent out by the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority and the chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, which has a reserve that shares a border the community. (U.S. National Institutes of Health/The Canadian Press)

The community of Southend is reporting a presumptive case of COVID-19. 

A statement from the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority said a test for COVID-19 was carried out in the community, located roughly 450 kilometres north of Prince Albert, on March 11.

"The individual is well and self-isolating," the statement said. 

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said the ministry of health was in charge of reporting and confirming cases of COVID-19. An email from the ministry of health said that department was awaiting response from the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority. 

"Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka is the Medical Health Officer for Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority which is a First Nations Organization," the email said, adding the ministry needed to look into the matter further.

Around 8:10 p.m. CST, after this story initially published, the province issued a news release that said a resident in Northern Saskatchewan was one of four new presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province. It was not immediately clear if this case is related.

Calls to the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority were not immediately returned. 

Chief Peter A. Beatty of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, which is under the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority's jurisdiction and has a reserve that shares borders with Southend, confirmed there was a presumptive case of COVID-19 in Southend. 

"One of our nurses was tested positive for COVID-19 — presumptive case, of course," Beatty told CBC News. 

"That will have to be sent to Winnipeg for confirmation, so we'll be waiting for that to confirm." 

Beatty said he believed the nurse contracted the virus through international travel, but didn't know where they had travelled.

He said the people the nurse had contact with while working at the clinic have since been located and are isolated. They're being monitored and anyone showing symptoms will be tested. 

Preventative measures taken

Beatty said as a preventative measure, community members in all Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation communities, including Southend, are being asked to restrict non-essential travel. 

Beatty said schools in Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation communities will be shut down for three weeks. 

The notice published by the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority asked residents to wash their hands, practice good hygiene and social distancing measures. 

Band staff were asked to work from home where possible for the time being, Beatty said, as a precautionary measure. 

"We're doing the best we can to mitigate, and to monitor the ones who were in close contact to the individual," Beatty said. 

Beatty said he was recently in Toronto and although he's not showing any symptoms of being sick, he's trying to self-isolate himself as much as possible. 

"I'm just taking precautionary measures, trying to set an example," he said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Eneas

Reporter

Bryan Eneas is a journalist from the Penticton Indian Band currently based in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC, he reported in central and northern Saskatchewan. Send news tips to Bryan.Eneas@cbc.ca.

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