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Five new COVID-19 cases confirmed at Attawapiskat First Nation

ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. — Public health authorities reported five COVID-19 cases in Attawapiskat First Nation on Friday.
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ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. — Public health authorities reported five COVID-19 cases in Attawapiskat First Nation on Friday.

The Weeneebayko Area Health Authority said that the original case was related to travel and that the four new cases are household contacts. Two more high-risk individuals have been identified and are awaiting test results.

Lynne Innes, president and CEO of WAHA, said her organization is continuing to monitor the situation by testing anyone who presents symptoms or has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

"We'll also continue working with Attawapiskat First Nation and our local public health to ensure everyone is maintaining their social distancing, wearing their mask, and not leaving their house unless they have to," said Innes.

Innes said that the Attawapiskat First Nation has moved into a partial lockdown, minimizing hours of operation for businesses and considering closing its schools.

WAHA said it's working with Porcupine Health Unit and the community public health department to ensure that the five infected people remain isolated.

Public health officials said that everyone in the Attawapiskat territory should continue to monitor for symptoms of the virus. If any symptoms develop, authorities recommend isolating immediately until a COVID-19 test can be arranged.

Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency in July 2019 over concerns about disinfection byproducts in its tap water.

Innes said that the lack of infrastructure and limited access to clean water remain a concern.

"The entire community has two access points for water so that's a concern because everyone is moving around when they should all be at home, taking safety precautions," said Innes.

She noted that without clean water it is difficult to regularly wash your hands, which public health officials agree is an important precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press