Indigenous

COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: What you need to know

The total number of hospitalizations for people on First Nations due to COVID-19 has increased by 41 since Jan. 19, and there have been 11 more deaths since last week.

41 new hospitalizations on First Nations since last week

Bobby Tagoona from Baker Lake, Nunavut, receives a COVID-19 vaccination during a clinic held at the Manitoba Inuit Association last June. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

The total number of hospitalizations for people on First Nations due to COVID-19 has increased by 41 since Jan. 19, and there have been 11 more deaths since last week.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) said as of Jan. 26, there had been 2,585 total hospitalizations in First Nations communities due to COVID-19, and 599 deaths.

According to data from ISC, there were 5,509 active cases of COVID-19 reported in First Nations as of Jan. 26. This is up from the 5,097 active cases reported as of Jan. 19. Case numbers may be understated as some provinces are now limiting access to PCR tests. 

To date, ISC is aware of a total of 6,851 cases in First Nations communities due to the Omicron variant: 4,387 in Eastern Canada and 2,464 in Western Canada. A total of 121 First Nations have reported cases of the strain.

The Government of Nunavut said as of Jan. 25, there are 247 active cases of COVID-19 in 17 communities. 

To date, there have been 1,439 confirmed cases in Nunavut, 1,187 total recovered cases and five deaths. Nunavut says 25,369 people have received at least two vaccine doses.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said there was space for cautious optimism this week, at a news conference Thursday.

"The number of active outbreaks in Indigenous communities is decreasing slightly," she said.

"Active case counts — we are hopeful — are reaching their peak, and I know that so many people are exhausted and have been working so hard to protect each other." 

Dr. Evan Adams, deputy chief medical officer of public health at ISC, said more than 1 million doses of vaccine had been administered in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities since the start of the pandemic.

Adams said vaccines have been the most effective way to combat the coronavirus and said that less than 20 per cent of eligible adults have received a booster shot to date.

"I think that our uptake for first, second and third doses has been good, but there's always room for improvement," said Adams.

Total cumulative First Nations case numbers per region:

British Columbia 7,384

Alberta: 16,912

Saskatchewan: 14,803

Manitoba: 16,916

Ontario: 7,628

Quebec: 5,417

Atlantic: 1,422

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What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • New or worsening cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Temperature equal to or over 38 C.
  • Feeling feverish.
  • Chills.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • New loss of smell or taste.
  • Headache.
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting.
  • Feeling very unwell.

If you think you might have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic.

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