SASKATOON -- The Northern Village of Pinehouse has declared a state of emergency after a swift spike of COVID-19 cases.

The village of just over 1,000 people has 96 active cases as of Thursday. According to Mayor Mike Natomagan, the first case was identified on Dec. 20.

“All hands are on deck with these active cases,” he said.

“During this pandemic, I hope a lot of good is going to come out of it once it clears and how we can partner with governments to find long-term solutions,” he added, referring to housing issues.

The community’s pandemic response team has been delivering “wellness kits” to people who are self-isolating. Kits include food, cleaning supplies and items for at-home entertainment.

Natomagan said two Pinehouse residents who tested positive for the disease have been hospitalized. When residents in the village need hospital care, he said, they go to Prince Albert or Saskatoon.

The Northern Village of Pinehouse is about 348 kilometres north of Prince Albert.

“We all realize this is real. It can happen to any one of us,” said Natomagan.

“It is a scare for everybody,” he said, adding that residents have been abiding with restrictions. This includes a nightly curfew, avoiding non-essential travel and gatherings and staying home at all times if instructed by public health.

According to the pandemic response team’s Facebook page, where they post daily updates, almost half of the people infected are under the age of 30. The village has had 161 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, with 65 of those recovered.

Natomagan said Pinehouse has not received COVID-19 vaccines and does not know when any will arrive. He said he’s been working closely with the La Ronge medical health officer throughout the pandemic.