'Hitting us really hard': Sask. First Nation moves into lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak
A growing COVID-19 outbreak in a northern Saskatchewan First Nation with where vaccination rates remain low has prompted the community to move into a lockdown.
Black Lake First Nation will remain in lockdown until Aug. 5, a letter from chief and council shared with community members said.
"We have had Black Lake community members medevaced south because of this virus," said the letter which outlines a series of public health measures and closures.
During the lockdown there will be strictly limited access to facilities, travel is discouraged and community members are being advised to stay at home.
Residents have been provided with colour-coded signs to display to let neighbours know how they are doing and if assistance is required.
According to an Athabasca Health Authority (AHA) report obtained by CTV News, there were 28 active cases in the region it serves as of Monday.
That's up from just a single recorded active case seven days earlier on July 13.
Nearly 95 per cent of all active cases in the area served by the AHA — which includes Fond Du Lac, Uranium City and Stony Rapids — have been identified in Black Lake, according to the report. An outbreak was declared in the community on July 23.
According to the AHA document, just 1 in 7 people are fully vaccinated in Black Lake, a community of more than 1,600.
At least six of the cases have resulted from the highly contagious Delta variant COVID-19 strain, the report said.
While the majority of cases are in adults, some of the cases have been identified in children, according to the report.
"It is noteworthy to say that some positive cases have been fully vaccinated," AHA primary healthcare executive director Taiwo Olubanwo, writes in the report.
While it is possible to develop COVID-19 if fully vaccinated, the chances of developing severe illness or dying is greatly reduced.
"Noticeably is the extremely low rate of the number of individuals who have been fully vaccinated with COVID-19 in Black Lake compared to other AHA communities," Olubanwo writes.
In a message to the community included in the report, Olubanwo applauds the move to restrict travel as part of Black Lake's lockdown measures.
The letter from the First Nation's leadership encourages community members to get vaccinated, follow health protocols and self-quarantine if diagnosed with COVID-19.
"The fourth wave is hitting of this COVID-19 has caught us off guard … and is hitting us really hard right now. If we work hard and follow the guidelines, then we will beat it."
The letter also said northern leaders are working on getting food and cleaning supplies delivered from the south.
A previous version listed the total number of active COVID-19 cases in the AHA region as the total number of cases for Black Lake.