SASKATOON -- A First Nation in northern Saskatchewan hit hard by a COVID-19 outbreak is emerging from a two-week voluntary lockdown in better shape.

That's according to an Athabasca Health Authority (AHA) report authored by primary healthcare executive director Taiwo Olubanwo.

As the temporary lockdown lifts, Black Lake First Nation has 19 active cases of COVID-19. During the outbreak's peak in late July, the community had over 40 active cases according to the report.

The outbreak was first declared on June 23.

During the lockdown period, access to facilities was strictly limited, travel was discouraged and community members were advised to stay at home.

While there was some inital resistance to the measures, Olubanwo writes that the community's response was "promising" a week into the lockdown.

Olubanwo had floated the idea of an emergency public health order (PHO) from the province to help enforce the measures.

Even without the order, Olubanwo says it appears the lockdown was also succesful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 to nearby communities.

"Evidence shows that the lockdown is effective, although tough to enforce without PHO," Olubanwo writes in the report.

Vaccination rates are still lagging in the community of more than 1,600, according to the report. Just 14 per cent of people there are fully vaccinated, Olubanwo says.

"With the number of efforts put in by the AHA primary health care team, our partners, and the community stakeholders, there is an increased chance that the vaccinated individual(s) may increase in the coming week in the face of a potential surge in COVID-19 active cases following the lockdown discontinuation."

While COVID-19 poses a signifigant risk in the community due to the lower rates of vaccination, Olubanwo says extending the lockdown would potentially be "challenging" without an emergency PHO in place.

"It is summertime, many people want to go on vacation, visit friends and family and have fun," Olubanwo says.

"In all fairness, lifting the lockdown is not the issue. Adherence to the COVID-19 preventive measures is indeed essential."