SASKATOON -- English River First Nation on Saturday made what it says is an urgent call for support to help control and eradicate the spread of COVID-19 in its communities.

“As case numbers rapidly increase in the Far North, we hope the Saskatchewan Government is laser-focused on the need to help us stem the spread up here,” Coun. Katrina Maurice said in a news release.

First Nations communities are particularly vulnerable to the spread and impact of viruses because of systemic issues around overcrowding, food insecurity, and underfunded and inferior healthcare systems, the First Nation says.

The first four cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in English River First Nation territory this week.

The First Nation says local public health officials have already traced the contacts of the recently confirmed cases but the process is not foolproof and there may be more cases in the community.

“As Saskatchewan descends their curve, we are just starting our ascent,” ERFN Pandemic Planning Committee emergency coordinator Bernie Eaglechild said in the release.

“As we have witnessed around the world, the shape of each curve was determined by the population’s resources and how quickly they were executed, so we are welcoming any and all of the support we can get to determine the extent of the spread in our communities.”