Nipissing First Nation Chief and Council declared a COVID-19 outbreak focused in the Duchesnay community, near North Bay, after five positive cases were identified over several days.
Nipissing FN had advised customers and employees of Green Medicine located at 120 Commanda Crescent in Duchesnay on Sunday that a worker there had tested positive. The potential exposure dates include: March 12and 13, March 15 to 20 and March 22 to 27 with the business proactively closing until April 12.
Four more cases were identified since, including one person over 60 years old, and there are expected to be more.
“The origin of this outbreak cannot be confirmed at this time and the investigation remains ongoing,” states a community message posted late Wednesday evening.
Individuals assessed as high-risk exposure contacts will be advised by a Community Health Nurse to self-isolate and go for COVID-19 testing,” the notice states. “Community Health Nurses will conduct regular follow-ups with high-risk exposure contacts for the duration of an isolation period.”
A high-risk exposure contact is defined as one that features: “no appropriate barrier and/or a face covering and physical distancing was not maintained over a period of time that adds up to 15 minutes or more. Outdoor exposure decreases the risk slightly, while indoor exposure increases the risk.”
The notice states that there is no standard to declare a community outbreak, but the chief and council decided the “surge of cases in one area of our nation meets our definition of an outbreak requiring immediate notification of our community members to control and contain it as quickly as possible.”
The outbreak will be considered contained when all positive cases are resolved, and it is confirmed that there is no further spread of COVID-19 in the community linked to these cases, states the notice.
Impacts to NFN operations included closing Couchie Memorial Daycare as a pro-active measure.
“We understand this sudden closure will be challenging and frustrating for parents, but the safety of our community is paramount and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Nbisiing Secondary School is returning to virtual instruction and the Duchesnay Creek Bridge Shuttle Service is reducing its hours of operations for essential trips only 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Essential trips are for going to work, the bank, purchasing medications and/or groceries, and attending medical appointments. You will be required to provide your name, contact number, and reason for travelling for tracking purposes. After-hours taxi services for essential trips must be pre-arranged by contacting Glenn McLeod at 705-471-7073 for screening and approval. The shuttle and taxi will travel from Northshore Convenience and the New Duchesnay Store to the Oak Street Terminal, and from the Oak Street Terminal to Northshore Convenience.
Nbisiing Bus Lines will continue to operate as usual: “There is currently no concern around bussing cohorts through Nbisiing Bus Lines, and our team continues to monitor and re-assess the situation hourly.”
“With Easter weekend nearly upon us and spring break around the corner, we can’t stress enough how important it is for community members to stay within their own households to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” the notice states.
Please follow these tips from our Public Health Unit to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
- Stay 2 metres apart from anyone you don’t live with.
Avoid gatherings, shared meals or carpools - these are common ways that COVID-19 spreads from one family to another. A person infected with COVID-19 can spread the virus to others 48 hours before they even feel sick.
- Have symptoms? Get tested right away, and until you have results, you and everyone else you live with must stay home.
Do not go to work or school or visit anyone if you have symptoms.
- Stay home and avoid non-essential travel or receiving visitors, especially between different colour zones. Our District is in the yellow zone and is surrounded by high-risk zones. Avoid travel to or from the Sudbury district in the west which is in the grey zone (lockdown), the Timiskaming district in the north and the Simcoe Muskoka district in the south which are both in the red zone.
Self-isolation means individuals are to remain on their property and avoid contact with others for a minimum of 10 days (for a positive case) and 14 days (for individuals without symptoms) even if you receive a negative COVID-19 test result. This includes self-isolating from others in your home.
Community Health Nurses will be conducting regular follow-ups with close contacts for the duration of the isolation period.
Those concerned about a potential exposure are asked to contact Carole Lafantaisie, NFN Community Health Nurse at (705) 840-8830. Other inquiries may be directed to Kimberly Lalonde, Director of Health Services at (705) 498-3698. Visit nfn.ca/covid19 for regular updates and links to helpful information.
Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.