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First Nations in Western Canada hit hard by COVID-19
Canada First Nations

First Nations in Western Canada hit hard by COVID-19

| @indiablooms | 21 Jan 2021, 09:40 pm

Canada/IBNS: Canadian federal officials are alarmed by the rising curve of COVID-19 outbreaks in people of First Nations in Western Canada, making up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces.

Overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions are some of the causes for the rising curve, said First Nation leaders and health experts.

"So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions."

5,571 active cases on reserves, most of them in Prairie provinces as of Jan 19. 3,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March, and more than 90 percent are in Western Canada were reported by Indigenous Services Canada

During a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, the federal officials urged the provinces to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines.

"We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19 and is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments.

"When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check."

"I always worry about our elders," said Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer for the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia.

"Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that," CBC News reported quoting McDonald.

(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)

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