North Spirit Lake lifted its Emergency Response Protocol on June 26 after receiving negative COVID-19 test results for a citizen who breached self-isolation procedures after returning from medical appointments in Winnipeg.
“We lifted the lockdown, so everybody can (resume) their normal life — people can go back to work,” says North Spirit Lake Councillor and Pandemic Team lead Brandon Rae during a June 26 phone interview. “The test results returned negative so that is a very good (result). The Pandemic Team here in North Spirit Lake and the chief and council are committed keeping the community as safe as possible.”
Rae says the weather changed when the negative test results were returned to the community.
“It was a rainy day this morning and when the test results came in the sun came out,” Rae says. “So it’s sunny out there now. I hope we don’t have to go into lockdown anymore. I’m glad that the people in North Spirit Lake understand … that the Pandemic Team is doing their best to protect everybody during the pandemic.”
North Spirit Lake has now returned to Phase 1 of the Pandemic Team Community Recovery Plan, but chief and council are stressing the importance for citizens to have a self-isolation plan prior to leaving the community and to follow it when they return.
“It is important to remember the virus is still a threat to enter the community and harm community citizens,” states the community’s June 26 press release. “We can continue to gather in small groups of 15 or less, so long as we take precautions to be safe and healthy, by social distancing and practicing good hygiene. Please continue to respect and follow the Pandemic Plan. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.”
North Spirit Lake implemented the Emergency Response Protocol on June 24 after the citizen returned from Winnipeg and made contact with other citizens and locations in the community as well as with patients in Sioux Lookout.
“We’re just trying to protect the people on the reserve here the best we can,” Rae says during the lockdown. “We have a lack of medical access so I think if we were to get a virus here, it would probably not be very good.”
The protocol called for all citizens to self-isolate in their homes and to have no contact with people outside their household; the closing of all facilities, band buildings and stores; the suspension of any passenger travel to or from North Spirit Lake with the exception of medical emergencies, natural disasters, police officers, nurses and doctors; and the closing of the clinic except for emergencies.
Essential workers were also required to complete their daily work requirements wearing appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment).
“(People were) not happy with having to self-isolate at home, but people seemed to be happy that there precautions were (put) in place,” Rae says. “Nobody wants to get sick (with COVID-19).”
Rae says the community of about 300-400 on-reserve citizens were encouraged to stock up on food and other supplies before the lockdown was implemented at 6 p.m. on June 24.
“The stores were open til 5:30 so people in the First Nation were able to go and stock up on food for four or five days until we got the test (results) back,” Rae says.
Rae says people usually go out on the land fishing, hunting and harvesting at this time of the year.
“It’s really good for kids — they like to run around,” Rae says. “They have a lot of energy (and) they love swimming.”