COVID-19 cases are beginning to taper off in Saskatchewan’s far north, but community leaders continue to urge members of the public to continue following public health guidelines.
This is just a month after the peak of the far north outbreak, with 174 combined cases confirmed in La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation, according to the La Loche Emergency Operations Centre Facebook page, NVLL & CRND Covid-19 Updates.
A funeral gathering in early June saw COVID-19 cases rise again, but as of June 26, only one new case was diagnosed in the far north with numbers holding steady at 54 combined active cases. Before the funeral, the number of active cases in the La Loche area was down to three with those people expected to recover in the following week.
“I know that gathering is very important in a very kind community, but we can’t put the lives of our loved ones at risk. I know that you want to show support and love at wakes, but we need to do things in a different way,” said Dr. Rim Zayed, Medical Health Officer in a June 11 broadcast on CHPN and later posted on NVLL & CRND Covid-19 Updates.
Localized checkpoints are monitoring people going in and out of certain communities, said Northwest Communities Incident Command Centre Incident Commander Rick Laliberte.
“The lesson learned is La Loche could outbreak at any time, so in the gatherings now with grads and parties, we're just hanging tight in order to make sure that we can respond appropriately,” he said.
The far north has been through this before, Laliberte said, and everyone has to play their part to keep numbers down.
“It's hard to deal with things like a family gathering, like a funeral or parties. You have to educate and you have to get the community to buy in. The residents have the responsibility, the role that each individual plays.
Through all of this, northern leaders have continued to tackle issues and deal with community concerns, Laliberte said, adding a hats off to them.
As of June 28, La Loche and Clearwater River alone have made up a total 275 of the 323 cases in the far North.