Neskantaga First Nation reports first coronavirus case amid tainted water crisis

A First Nations community in Northern Ontario that was recently evacuated amid a tainted water crisis has reported its first case of the novel coronavirus, its chief confirmed Friday.

Read more: This Ontario First Nation has been under a boil water advisory for 25 years. Now Ottawa is investigating

In a tweet, Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias said that he was recently informed of a positive case of COVID-19 involving a contractor working in the community.

“We have developed very strict pandemic protocols to allow for contractors to enter the community without the presence of COVID-19,” read Moonias’ statement.

“We are investigating how this was possible given our protocols.”

A full lockdown of Neskantaga First Nation will now be going forward, with passenger flights grounded until an investigation is conducted.

Click to play video 'Neskantaga Chief says community members do not want to return until water issue is fixed' 0:37 Neskantaga Chief says community members do not want to return until water issue is fixed

Neskantaga Chief says community members do not want to return until water issue is fixed

Moonias assured that despite the case, the risk to community members still there is considered to be low as contractors were to be kept separate.

The chief’s statement, however, mandated “all parties” on the ground to go to a nursing station immediately to get tested as a precautionary measure.

More than 250 members in Neskantaga have been evacuated to Thunder Bay since October after an oily substance was found in the community’s water reservoir, triggering a plant shutdown that left the First Nations without running water.

Read more: Canadian Armed Forces to assist in Neskantaga First Nation amid water crisis: Blair

The community, which also has Canada’s longest running water boil advisory of about 25 years, will not see its residents go back home for at least another three weeks.

Even then, residents would not go back to clean drinking water, as a letter from Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller obtained by Global News and Concordia University’s Institute for Investigative Journalism (IIJ) said officials expect to have clean running water in the community by Dec. 11.

The federal government is now investigating the role of construction companies in the community’s water crisis.

Click to play video 'Chief says Neskantaga community ‘has had enough’' 1:02 Chief says Neskantaga community ‘has had enough’

Chief says Neskantaga community ‘has had enough’

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