Canada’s military deployed to Lac Seul First Nation amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) says six rangers have been deployed to help a First Nation community in Dryden, Ont., several days after the community declared a state of emergency over rapidly rising COVID-19 cases.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair tweeted Wednesday the federal government had approved Ontario’s request for assistance for the Lac Seul First Nation community. Rangers will be stationed in Dryden until May 18.

“We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to support Canadians in the fight against #COVID19,” the tweet read.

Lac Seul First Nation made the announcement on May 1. Health officials had detected three new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the community’s total to 16.

One day before the declaration, officials introduced a 14-day Code Red lockdown that is expected to last until May 14 in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Under the lockdown, residents have been urged to leave their homes solely for essential reasons such as groceries, picking up medication, doctors’ appointments and to get vaccinated.

Click to play video: 'Indigenous communities ‘crushing curve,’ but some COVID-19 outbreaks reminder ‘this is not over’: Miller' 2:07 Indigenous communities ‘crushing curve,’ but some COVID-19 outbreaks reminder ‘this is not over’: Miller

Indigenous communities ‘crushing curve,’ but some COVID-19 outbreaks reminder ‘this is not over’: Miller – Apr 16, 2021

CAF said those deployed will be tasked with providing support that includes transportation assistance, delivering food and supplies, humanitarian assistance as well as supporting a public awareness program on health measures in effect.

“Canadian Ranger support has been requested for a period of 14 days but will be assessed and will continue until the situation has stabilized and is manageable through local and provincial resources,” the statement read.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Indigenous communities has declined by 80 per cent since mid-January, primarily due to a concentrated effort to prioritize more often more remote, at-risk communities.

Read more: Canada readjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout to target frontline workers

Minister for Indigenous Services Marc Miller said Tuesday that Indigenous communities were “keeping up the fight against COVID-19.”

However, he said “alarming outbreaks in some communities are painful reminders to maintain public health measures. This is not over.”

As of April 30, Miller said that just shy of 370,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered to more than 661 First Nation communities, accounting for over 72 per cent of adults living in the territories and 80 per cent of adults in Inuit communities.

More to come. 

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