Health officials in the community, as well as the Chief and Council, are very concerned that some community members are not taking the social distance directive seriously. Numerous reports have reached the administration of residents gathering together socially or sharing a vehicle for trips off the reserve. For the safety of all of us, this must stop.
COVID-19 viral infection is a dangerous illness. Initial reports about the virus suggested that it was only a disease of the old or infirm, and that young or healthy people had little to fear. This is simply not true. While many infected people exhibit minor or no symptoms, the disease is serious and often debilitating, even for those who don’t require hospitalization. It can be much worse, or fatal, for the elderly or those with an existing condition like diabetes. The virus is also highly contagious and can be spread by someone showing no symptoms at all.
We are fortunate that there have been no COVID-19 cases identified in Neyaashiinigmiing yet, and we understand that it is difficult to stay away from friends and relations for such an extended period of time when there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong.
Community and social gathering is an important part of our cultural identity. We have survived as a nation because of the strength of our bonds to all our relations, those of blood and those of community. We instinctively draw together in times of trouble.
This is a critical time, however, and we must be strong in a different way. The virus is spreading into the Grey-Bruce area and we are extremely concerned about it reaching the reserve. The only way we can protect our relations is by staying away from them. Symptoms of infection are slow to appear in an infected person, and are sometimes very minimal, but the person is still contagious. We simply cannot assume that we are not infected, or that a friend without symptoms is not infected. We must act, at all times, as if we are already infected and just don’t know it yet.
With the number of vulnerable people in our community, and our limited resources, a COVID-19 outbreak in Neyaashiinigmiing would be devastating. There is no vaccine for COVID-19, nor is there a proven specific treatment. The Chief and Council implore all residents to take this crisis seriously. Lives depend on it. None of us wants to be the one that ignored the warnings and spread a fatal disease to a loved one or community member.
We ask that all residents refrain from gathering with people from outside your household. Remember that there is currently a province wide ban on gatherings of more than 5 people from outside your household.
Limit your trips off the reserve to emergencies or medically necessary appointments only. If you must drive with someone from outside your household, have no more than two people in the vehicle, including the driver. Make use of the Food Bank and other services to avoid trips to town. Follow the advice of Health Services to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Protect your friends and family. Maintain social distance. Keep 2 meters apart at all times.