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NAN taking steps to deal with coronavirus outbreak

From airline screening to mental health preparedness, First Nation communities are trying to keep COVID-19 at bay, while bracing for the worst.
Fort Hope

THUNDER BAY – Leadership at Nishnawbe Aski Nation is asking for 30,000 COVID-19 test kits to be sent to Indigenous communities in Ontario’s Far North.

NAN’s COVID-19 is also calling on Indigenous Services Canada to establish multiple emergency field hospitals and provide extra support to ORNGE to ensure they can meet the added demand for their service expected in the North.

In a release issued on Wednesday, NAN outlined a number of measures they are taking to prevent the spread of the disease and requests they are making of appropriate levels of government to ensure the services needed within their communities are met.

First and foremost, strict airport screening has been put in place by both Bearskin Airlines and Superior Airways, checking for recent U.S. travel and contact with known cases of the coronavirus. Cleaning at all airports has been intensified.

Communities are being told to consider ensuring pilots and community members stay properly distanced and returning passengers should be recommended to self-isolate if necessary to keep the pandemic at bay.

Nishnawbe Aski Police Service has made a request for exceptions funding circumstances.

NAN leadership is also looking to the federal government for protection surrounding infrastructure projects, which often involve personnel coming and going from communities, seeking assurance they won’t be subject to any penalties should work not be able to continue.

A NAN child and family services emergency preparedness team is being developed, including a CFS expert as well as disease control and crisis management expert and an elder.

Co-ordination is also underway with Ontario Works.

The governing body on Wednesday added they are working to address immediate concerns and mental health needs within their territory, convening working groups to come up with solutions.

NAN’s COVID-19 task force team is also looking into what legally can be done to ensure its population are following social distancing and community safety measures to prevent the virus from spreading in their communities should it arrive.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 18 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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