There are 28 residents in the Rod M. McGillivary Care Home on Opaskwayak Cree Nation. According to OCN Onekanew Christian Sinclair, all 28 residents there have tested positive, along with several staff members.
In a statement released online late Nov. 13, Sinclair said the home would now be considered an outbreak zone - which was confirmed by the provincial government Saturday, becoming northern Manitoba's fourth active outbreak and the first to take place in a northern Manitoba health facility.
Residents were tested by a mix of rapid testing and through tests later confirmed at Winnipeg's Cadham Provincial Laboratory. An OCN rapid response team has worked with local and regional health workers to help keep COVID-19 and possible complications at bay.
"We are very concerned about the gravity of this situation and are working with all partners, including the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination team, the Northern Health Region and First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. We are actively working on staffing plans to ensure that all of the residents of the RMMCH continue to receive high-quality care," said Sinclair.
"The staff will increase the frequency of assessments to quickly identify any residents who require transfer to a hospital setting as soon as possible. The outbreak in the care home is occuring in the context of widespread community transmission in the province, including our district - The Pas/OCN/Kelsey. It is absolutely imperative we do everything we can to interrupt transmission of COVID-19 within our community. We are in full support of a full lockdown, effective immediately, and the need for all people to follow the public health orders under the red critical level of the provincial pandemic response system."
Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton, who represents all of northern Manitoba including OCN, demanded that the federal government pull out "all the stops" to address the outbreak.
"The current outbreak at the McGillivary Care Home on Opaskwayak Cree Nation is of major concern to our entire region. My thoughts are with the Elders and staff fighting COVID-19 at this time. The fact that all of the 28 residents of the care home and 14 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 points to the need for immediate federal action," Ashton said Nov. 14 in a statement.
"The Federal government must pull out all the stops including responding to the call for military help. From testing, to contact tracing, to accessing medical care, to ensuring people can stay home - we need federal action now. We must also recognize that the provincial health system in our northern urban centres including The Pas are not equipped to deal with a surge in cases. We need the Federal Government to step in and ensure that our healthcare system is not overloaded and that people across our region are supported at this time."
Province-wide, Nov. 14 has proven to be the deadliest day yet for Manitoba during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the province announcing 15 deaths from the disease, including some deaths that occured as far back as Nov. 2. All the deaths are in southern Manitoba, with 11 deaths tied to an outbreak at the Maples care in Winnipeg.
Manitoba reported 237 net new cases of COVID-19 Nov. 14, including 16 cases in northern Manitoba. The region now has 295 active cases of COVID-19, including eight people in the north hospitalized with the disease. The Pas-OCN-Kelsey leads the way with 141 active cases, while Cross Lake/Pimicikamak has 65 active cases. Other districts seeing an increased level of cases include the Grand Rapids/Misipawistik/Moose Lake/Mosakahiken/Easterville/Chemawawin district, where 32 people are sick, and Island Lake, where 18 people have active COVID-19 cases.
The remaining cases are spread throughout the region - 12 districts have at least one active case, along with eight cases marked as "unknown district". The Flin Flon/Snow Lake/Cranberry Portage/Sherridon health district currently has one active case of COVID-19.