Manitoba First Nations await confirmation of positive COVID-19 tests on reserves

WINNIPEG — Some First Nations in Manitoba's Interlake region are reporting members in their communities have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs had said in a recent statement posted on Facebook that there had been a total of 29 lab-confirmed and probable First Nations COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, but that so far all had been off-reserve.

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However, Fisher River Cree Nation said on its website Friday that a community member tested positive after being exposed in Winnipeg and returning to Fisher River while asymptomatic.

The First Nation says the test has been sent to the provincial public health laboratory for confirmation.

Peguis First Nation, meanwhile, said on its website Friday that two people in the community who were in close contact with someone with COVID-19 have tested positive and that their samples will also be forwarded to the provincial public health laboratory for confirmation.

Indigenous Services Canada said on its website that as of Sept. 10, there had been 491 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves, but none on reserves in Manitoba.

"Fisher River Health Services have already conducted contact tracing and have contacted those who were in close contact with the individual. All the individuals are now in 14 day self-isolation and self-monitoring," the statement on the community's website said.

Peguis First Nation said the two people in its community who tested positive are already self-isolating, and that it will notify members if their positive tests are confirmed by the provincial lab.

"Peguis Public Health will continue contact tracing and advise any community members who may need to isolate. We will continue to keep members informed with any updates."

Manitoba reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the number of lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba to 1,410. A total of 283 of the cases remained active, and 16 people have died.

The province has advised of a "possible exposure" at Ecole New Era School in Brandon on Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. where it says a person attended school for a limited time while asymptomatic. It says an investigation has determined the person did not acquire COVID-19 at school.

"The risk is deemed low as physical distancing was maintained while at school and a mask was worn," the province said in its COVID-19 update Saturday.

Winnipeg, meanwhile, issued a statement Saturday about a bus passenger who has since tested positive for COVID-19. It said the person rode transit on multiple occasions between August 31 and September 2.

Winnipeg Transit began requiring the use of masks on August 29.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2020.

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