Siksika Nation Chief and Council has passed a motion to move our COVID-19 risk level to RED-HIGH RISK level, effective May 7, from its previous YELLOW status. This change in local risk level is advised by Siksika Health Services Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Team, as a result of the surge of new variant cases in Alberta and across Canada that are quickly overwhelming public health and health systems.
Siksika Health Services and Siksika Nation continue to take strong proactive measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, considering Siksika’s specific context, and in the interest of protecting our Nation members. Siksika has acted in advance of the province since the beginning of the pandemic, in areas of testing, securing congregate living sites and essential services, limiting gatherings, and managing risk in schools and workplaces.
Siksika Nation COVID Risk Scale and Alberta Stop the Spike Plan Review
On May 4, Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney announced mandatory restrictions for the province to Stop the Spike. These public health measures are required to protect the health system and reduce the rising spread of COVID-19 and COVID-19 variants of concerns.
Since mid-February, the province has experienced a steady increase in new, total and variant cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Starting May 5, additional restrictions come into effect for regions with at least 50 cases per 100,000 people, and at least 30 active cases.
These restrictions will be in place for at least 3 weeks and will be extended if necessary. Province-wide restrictions remain in effect for all other communities.
Siksika continues to provide a very high level of service for testing, contact tracing and support for those isolating, including mental health, food security, access to health services and isolation options, compared to any jurisdiction in Alberta. This is determined from recorded data from Siksika Health Services and from surrounding communities.
Unlike the rest of the province, Siksika currently has very low COVID-19 activity, however due to the situation throughout the province we still need to be vigilant. Continue to limit exposures outside the household, particularly in large urban centers like Calgary, Strathmore, and Lethbridge.
Siksikawa should refrain from both indoor and outdoor gatherings with people from outside their household, including both informal social gatherings, and formal gatherings. If gatherings are essential, they should take place outdoors, and be restricted to 10 people or fewer. Essential outdoor gatherings of 10 people or fewer should only be permitted if the space and organization of the group activity permits physical distancing of 2 metres between people, cleaning and disinfection, and other public health measures. Sick individuals with any type of symptom SHOULD NOT attend and/or host gatherings.
Under a RED-HIGH RISK level, the following guidance applies:
- Siksika Nation members encouraged to stay home.
- All non-essential activities and gatherings are discouraged.
- All non-essential businesses, workplaces, and services advised to close temporarily.
- Funerals/wakes-restricted to 10 people or fewer; immediate family only. Contact Siksika Health Services for guidance.
- Cultural/spiritual gatherings advised to be temporarily suspended.
- Schools advised to be temporarily closed.
- Elders Lodge-temporary suspension of visitors.
- Sports leagues advised to close temporarily.We need to guard against the introduction and spread of the highly infectious and more deadly COVID-19 variants of concern, as AB and the rest of the country are experiencing third waves of COVID infection and spread. The third wave is proving to be more deadly than any previous waves.Albertas Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw has explained several new measures in response to variants of concern in her updates. For example, rapid PCR testing, recommending that individuals who are exposed be tested multiple times, and quarantining entire households in higher risk situations. While these measures may be new for the province, Siksika has had them in place since the summer of 2020.COVID-19 vaccine allocation in SiksikaAlthough our vaccination rates are better than the rest of the province, they are not high enough to prevent spread of the virus, only slow it. Those who have received vaccines should still follow public health guidelines as though they have never received the vaccine. At this time, vaccination DOES NOT exempt someone from isolation if they are exposed to a positive case.
We need to give our immunization program time to work. Getting enough vaccine supply and immunizing enough people to protect all high-risk individuals and the community will still take another 6-8 weeks. Siksika Health Services will continue to meet with Indigenous Services Canada weekly to discuss logistics of acquiring and administrating the upcoming vaccines.
Please continue to follow public health measures and get immunized when it is your turn. For more information about Albertas enhanced public health measures, visit https://www.alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health-measures.aspx.