SASKATOON -- In a letter shared with colonies in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Hutterite leaders are encouraging members of their communities to cooperate with health officials in the fight against COVID-19 after a surge in cases.

The July 18 letter, signed by Dariusleut Elder Joseph S. Wurz and Lehraleut Elder Micheal J. Hofer along with Hutterian Safety Council (HSC) Chair David Tschetter, outlines a number of recommended steps for community members.

"Everyone must cooperate with public health and its orders. Irresponsible actions by community leaders are not acceptable," the letter says.

Leaders in colonies are asked to encourage anyone exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms to get tested.

Also, community members are asked to cooperate with contact tracing efforts.

"Be honest and forthright and resist the temptation to mislead the inspectors by hiding cases or possible contacts as doing so may cause serious harm to others," the leaders say.

According to the letter, shared with CTV News, the recommendations come after conference calls with health officials in Saskatchewan and Alberta, on July 16 and July 17 respectively.

In the letter, the leaders also remind anyone who becomes sick to stay isolated and urges "extreme caution" when it comes to non-essential travel.

"If your community has positive cases, please stay home and don't accept visitors," the letter says.

Also, the leaders advise calling 811 and discuss any possible symptoms before meeting with health care workers or visiting a hospital.

"Otherwise the health care workers are forced to self-isolate for two weeks, should you happen to be infected. Aside from being highly unethical, this places additional stress on our already strained medical system and personnel," the leaders write.

For anyone who might be considering being less than forthcoming with health officials, the leaders also include a stern message.

"When we are dishonest in our dealings with members of the medical community, we are not only dishonouring ourselves, we are potentially harming our neighbour. As Christian people, we are called to look out for the wellbeing of each other."

The letter says the HSC is in close contact with health officials in both provinces, to ensure that their response is culturally sensitive and appropriate.