Many exposed as Aroland reports first case of COVID-19

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Authorities still do not know how the virus entered the First Nation, after Aroland reported the first case of COVID-19; large number of people exposed

ARROLAND FIRST NATION – Large numbers of people have been exposed to COVID-19 in Aroland First Nation, its leader said, as the community reported its first case of the virus over the weekend.

Chief Dorothy Towedo said authorities still do not know how the case entered the community, located about 400 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay.

“We don’t know where or how this individual was able to pick it up,” she said. “We were very lucky – we delayed this long before one of our limbs was exposed, but unfortunately I guess the day [inevitably] come that we would be affected by the virus.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is said to be working with local health officials to follow up on what the chief said were large numbers of residents at risk.

Some of those exhibits were the result of New Year’s gatherings, Towedo said on Sunday, although it was not confirmed that those gatherings had spread the virus.

The Aroland band council implored residents to be honest with contact tracers in a statement released on Saturday and to refrain from “shaming the victim” to those who have tested positive.

“We’re all stressed out in this situation, but attacking people won’t help anyone,” it read.

The Matawa Health Co-op will be in the community on Monday to administer tests to those contacted by public health authorities. Other residents who wished to receive tests would also have access, Towedo said.

Meanwhile, the band and council have ordered all residents to self-isolate in their homes, warning that a curfew could be implemented if the advice is not followed.

Security was posted at a checkpoint at the main entrance to the community, with the band council saying no one would be allowed in or out until the contact tracing was completed.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit first reported a First Nations case, without specifically identifying Aroland, on Saturday.

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