Staff with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority are asking residents to rethink their Thanksgiving plans.

As COVID-19 situations continue to evolve in Manitoba, Kenora, Sioux Lookout and more, SLFNHA is asking people to limit holiday gatherings to family or household members only, and with less people, there’s less risk.

Staff say you should also avoid non-essential travel, and to consider celebrating virtually, especially if any family members are at an increased risk of severe illness. If you do gather in-person, you’re asked to limit the length of time for the gathering.

Family members and students should also assess the risk they may pose to their families before returning home for the holidays, as you may be bringing the virus into your community.

“All in all, we’ve had four recent incidents in our area. All of them have been related to travel to-and-from the community,” says Dr. John Guilfoyle with the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.

“We’ve managed to pick-up the infections and got out around it to prevent it from spreading further. Those efforts seem to have worked. That’s a credit to the work or our local pandemic team, nursing stations, public health and more have all worked together to make that happen.”

However, Guilfoyle notes that some residents need out-of-community medical care, and he stressed you shouldn’t delay that care if you need it. If proper precautions and social distancing measures are taken, the risk is low.

“We don’t want the virus to come into our communities, but it can and it will. We’ve shown that with the proper response, we can get out ahead of it and prevent it from spreading.”

Last week, the Northwestern Health Unit advised residents to avoid all non-essential travel outside of northern Ontario. Those that wish to travel outside the region can, but should perform a risk assessment before leaving the area.

If you do travel outside of northern Ontario, the health unit says you should self-isolate for 14 days upon returning if you have come in contact with a close contact of a positive case or have been exposed to an outbreak situation.

Guilfoyle notes that the three COVID-19 cases in Sandy Lake First Nation are isolating and doing well, and their cases in Pikangikum First Nation and Kasabonika Lake First Nation are all considered resolved, and there’s no evidence of further spread in any of the communities.

If you have symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19, contact your local assessment centre or nursing station immediately. If you have had close contact with a known case, get tested.

All residents are reminded to always follow preventative safety measures such as hand washing, wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home if you’re sick.

For more information:
Three reported COVID-19 cases related to Winnipeg trip
Travel outside of northern Ontario not recommended