Neskantaga First Nation finalizes pandemic plan in face of COVID-19 threat
Plan calls for screening people entering the community at the airport and on the winter roads
The chief of Neskantaga First Nation says his community now has a pandemic plan to guide its response to COVID-19.
The plan calls for using buildings such as the school and community centre to isolate people who can't be near others, Chris Moonias said.
It also calls for screening people entering the community at the airport and on winter roads, and it requires transport trucks to notify the band office of their pending arrival ahead of time.
Although the community didn't have a plan until this month, Moonias said preparing for emergencies comes naturally to people in his community, which has been under a boil water advisory for around 25 years.
"We've been in a constant state of crisis for a long time, and it's almost natural for us to do something like this because our membership is always helping, and they're always prepared," he said.
The community has already stocked up on groceries and supplies in case its supply chain gets disrupted, Moonias said.
School will remain closed for the next two weeks, and that closure will be reviewed and extended as necessary, he said.
Meanwhile, the community has set up systems for maintaining essential services, including utilities, police services, internet access and child and family services, he added.
First Nations have been sharing ideas on pandemic preparedness both on conference calls and online, Moonias said, and his community has borrowed ideas from others in formulating its plan.
Nonetheless, he said, he still has a lot of questions about what will happen if COVID-19 arrives in his community, where a large number of people live with diabetes.