Dozens of York Factory First Nation residents are quarantining, with some beginning to show symptoms of the novel coronavirus, after a family of seven in the northern Manitoba community tested positive over the weekend.
On Tuesday, public health officials reported 34 more cases of COVID-19 in the province.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said a health team dispatched to York Factory, some 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is equipped to do rapid testing.
"There are at least 65 people that have come in close contact with the family of the probable case," Settee said. "Sixty-five people are in quarantine at the local motel in York Landing... a lot are in isolation at home, I hear from the pandemic response team."
Officials said a woman from the community had to be sent to Winnipeg for medical treatment and flew back to the community Sept. 18. A few days later, the 36-year-old mother of five was notified she had been exposed to COVID-19 while in the city.
On Sunday, her entire household was found to be positive.
NDP MP Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski) called for the federal government to act urgently to send test kits, personal protective equipment, and mental health supports to the isolated community. Ashton also called on the provincial government to reinstate ferry service so residents can obtain food, propane and other goods.
"I've been told that people with symptoms are being moved into a 40-room motel and the worry is that it will fill up fast," she said Tuesday. "We know that COVID-19 can have a disproportionate impact on First Nations. The second wave is here.
"York Factory needs help now, and all governments need to be working with First Nations to ensure that they are receiving the support they need."
Meanwhile, provincial public health officials reported of the 34 new cases of COVID-19, 26 were in the Winnipeg health region. There were two more located in Prairie Mountain, one in Northern Health, and five in Southern Health.
The province said there were 606 active cases, with 14 people in hospital — eight of those in intensive care. The test positivity rate was 2.2 per cent. The number of deaths remained at 20.
Public health also confirmed a potential coronavirus exposure at Iqra Islamic School in Winnipeg on Sept. 23 and 24. The positive COVID-19 case was not acquired at the school. A cohort of students has been told to self-isolate and switch to remote learning.
The public was also warned about possible exposures over the course of nine days (Sept. 14-18, and 21-22) at the Lens Crafters location at 1649 Kenaston Blvd.
Meanwhile, the grace period for some late City of Winnipeg payments is about to end.
Starting Oct. 1, the city will resume collecting penalties and interest for late payments on multiple fees and fines, including ambulance bills, parking tickets, and water bills. The penalties were suspended earlier this year to help ease the financial burden of COVID-19 on Winnipeggers.
Late payment penalties for unpaid property and business taxes will continue to be waived until Nov. 30.
Elsewhere, a 21-year-old man from Winnipeg has been fined by RCMP in Leaf Rapids, after breaking public health orders restricting travel to the North. Mounties said officers patrolling the community Sept. 26 encountered the man, who said he was in town for a wedding.
Currently, travel north of the 53rd parallel by people who do not reside in the region or are not travelling directly to a tourist destination, such as Churchill, provincial park campground or fishing lodge, is prohibited.
Police said the man was also arrested, due to outstanding warrants for assault with a weapon, assault, eight counts of failing to comply and two counts of uttering threats.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.