Quick Facts for COVID-19

  • In the respiratory tract lining, COVID-19 infects the cells and has been labelled a respiratory virus.
  • The virus is NOT airborne, but can be spread by droplets through coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing, etc.
  • Droplets also settle on surfaces all around us and this virus can survive on surfaces from hours to days. Frequent sanitization of commonly touched surfaces is recommended.
  • 40/40 rule – 40 degrees Celsius (hot soap and water, hot wash in laundry) and 40% alcohol, kills the virus.
  • The reproduction number is 2-2.5, which means that in a population that is not immune, if there is no physical distancing or other control measures, each infected person will infect 2-2.5 others.
  • Assuming Siksika Nation has approximately 600 high-risk vulnerable individuals in the community, if there is no physical distancing, 500 would be infected. If physical distancing was 50 percent effective, that would drop to 50 high-risk individuals infected.
  • People are generally infectious for many days, that is why it is recommended that individuals self-isolate for at least ten days, or until symptoms have gone away (whichever is longer) if they are sick.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that infects the cells of the lining of the respiratory tract, pharynx, and throat. It is invisible to the human eye, but very dangerous, causing many people to become very sick and need to visit the hospital, and in some cases, pass away. Seniors and people with underlying medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are at higher risk of becoming very sick, so its especially important that we work together to protect these people.

Common Symptoms Include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue
  • Runny Nose
  • Shortness of breath
Symptoms May Also Include:
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Muscle/joint aches
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Altered smell or taste

Most people have mild symptoms and can recover at home.

COVID-19 can travel from one person to another person through the droplets in their breath, speech, coughs, and sneezes, and it is very contagious. COVID-19 is not airborne; it must be spread by droplets. When a person infected with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs, or sneezes, droplets that contain the virus fall down and settle on surfaces around them. And when that person touches their nose or mouth maybe coughs into their hands or wipes their nose or mouth the sickness is now on their hands until they wash them really well with soap and water, and can be spread to anything they touch, like door handles, countertops, light switches, etc. The virus can survive for hours and even days on those surfaces if they’re not cleaned and disinfected.

    • Being coughed on directly
    • Close contact with an infected person
    • Touching any surface that has droplets on them, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

The reproduction number for COVID-19 is 2-2.5. That means that in a population that is not immune, if there is no physical distancing or other control measures, each infected person will infect 2-2.5 others. This is compared to 1.5 for non-pandemic influenza, 10 for chicken pox, 15 for measles.

Currently, there is no way in the world to stop the virus; the best we can do is prepare for when it arrives in Siksika, do our best to slow down how quickly it spreads, and try to protect the people who are at highest risk, seniors, and people with underlying medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.

When individuals are sick, even with mild symptoms, it is important for them to stay home and self-isolate:

    • Stay away from other people.
    • Don’t go out, ask others to bring your supplies, or medications.
    • Wash your hand frequently with soap and water.
    • Cover your cough or cough into your sleeve.

Siksika Health Services and Siksika Nation Administration are doing their best to support individuals and households to self-isolate within their own home. This includes support for food and essential supplies, medications and access to mental health and essential services. However, some ill individuals may not be able to isolate safely at home, or their household may not have the resources or space for isolation.

Siksika has been developing compassionate isolation options for those who cannot isolate safely at home. If this is something you believe that you or someone in your household requires or may benefit from, be sure to tell the Community Health nurse when they call, following your COVID-19 test.

If you feel unwell or have any new or change in symptoms, stay home and call the COVID-19 Response Unit or CRU at 403-734-3829, which is available 7 days a week. The CRU offers testing in your home and by drive thru, but you should call to arrange testing. If you need to see a doctor, you can also call the medical clinic at 403-734-5690 during business hours.

It is important to continue to prepare for when COVID-19 arrives in Siksika, do our best to slow down how quickly it spreads, and try to protect the people who are at highest risk: Elders, and people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.

There are things you can do to protect yourself and others:

For healthy people: limit non-essential travel to places outside of your home/yard, and follow public health advice: keep distance (2 metres) from others who are not in your household; wash your hands regularly – more often than usual – with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, when soap and water is not available); clean & disinfect common surfaces; etc. See more information below, and on the Alberta Health website: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus.

If you feel ill or have ANY new symptoms or change in symptoms (this can include cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle/joint aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, altered smell or taste), stay home and call the COVID-19 Response Unit or CRU at 403-734-3829, which is available 7 days a week. The CRU offers testing in your home and by drive thru, but you should call to arrange testing. If you need to see a doctor, you can also call the medical clinic at 403-734-5690 during business hours.

Keep distance from other people: at least 2 metres away from people who are not in your household. This COVID-19 virus can travel in the droplets from a sick persons breath, speech, coughs or sneezes, so if you are within 2 metres of another person and they speak or breathe, or happen to cough or sneeze, the droplets containing COVID-19 virus could reach you, and also make you sick. People infected with COVID-19 do not always have noticeable symptoms, and it can take a few days for symptoms to develop once a person does become infected. What this means is that if you are within 2 metres of another person, you can catch COVID-19 from them.

Physical Distancing is the best way to prevent and limit the spread of infection. Stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people who are not members of your household.

  • Healthy people can go for a walk, get groceries, pick up your mail, carry on with your usual activities, but always remember to:
    • Stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people.
    • Avoid shaking hands, kissing and hugging.
    • Cover your cough.
    • Wash your hands when you return home.

But just because we need to stay physically distant from one another doesn’t mean that we need to be socially disconnected! There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with family and friends, and even make new friends at this time: call, text, or video message other people, or call the support line at 403-734-5660 to talk to a Mental Health Therapist. Being alone can add fear to feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. Talk to check on and remain connected to your children, family, and friends.

Wash your hands very often, to remove any of those COVID-19 droplets that you may have picked up by touching door handles, cellphones, light switches, etc. If you’ve touched any surfaces that have COVID-19 droplets on them, the virus might be on your hands now, and then if you touch your nose, eyes, or mouth you could become infected with the virus as well. When it comes to washing your hands, just regular soap and water is best (don’t worry about buying the best antibacterial soap or COVID-19 soap). Sing your favourite powwow or country/western song while washing your hands to be sure you’re washing long enough – 20-30 seconds is the length of time it takes to get your hands clean.

  • Hand washing frequently – Regular soap and water works the best.
    • Wash for 20-30 seconds at a time.
    • Using hand sanitizer is a good option when hand washing with soap and water is not possible. Regular soap and water works best.

Try hard to not touch your face, just in case you did pick up some of those COVID-19 droplets by touching a table or a light switch or something that had the virus on it. It can be challenging to avoid touching your face, but its also important because the COVID-19 virus can enter a persons body through their nose, eyes or mouth. Do your best to prevent the virus from entering your body to limit your risk to becoming infected.

Cleaning and disinfecting the house can be a pain-in-the-butt, but its important for getting rid of any virus droplets that may have fallen on surfaces like countertops, tables, door handles, light switches and cleaning can be a great workout too! Try turning on the radio to 104.7FM – The Nation’s Station – or putting on some music that makes you smile, and make that cleaning/disinfecting happen! Any cleaning product labelled “Disinfectant” will do the job, and if you cant find any, a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water will work just as well. (don’t forget to wear rubber gloves when disinfecting – especially if you’re using bleach!)

  • On hard surfaces, you can use:
    • Cleaning products that have a label with the word “disinfectant”.
    • Bleach solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.
    • Liquids such a lemon juice and vinegar are not strong enough to kill viruses/ bacteria.
  • On upholstered surfaces (couches, arm chairs, etc.): Clean as usual with vacuuming, etc. Don’t use disinfectants.
    • It will damage material and soak into the cushioning.

Gatherings of people increase the risk that COVID-19 could spread, because its not always possible to know who may have it and who may not. If you are in the same room as someone with COVID-19, the risk of you also becoming sick is high. Yes, some people have symptoms like coughing and sneezing, but some sick people do not have symptoms, and they are still very contagious. This is why it is important to limit all gatherings – both informal social gatherings, and formal gatherings.

Gatherings should only be permitted if the space and the organization of the group activity allows physical distancing (2 metres between people), cleaning and disinfecting, adequate hand-washing stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer available to all participants, and other public health measures (see Public Health Considerations for Group Activities – coming soon). In situations where these measures cannot be maintained, groups will need to be smaller so that these preventive measures can be maintained to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the activity.

Sick individuals with any type of symptoms should not attend gatherings.

The most important steps you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are to wash your hands, stay home (especially when sick), and keep 2 meters away from others when out for essential supplies.

  • Masks do cover the mouth and nose and may help protect others, especially if you are sick.
    • Masks prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating people and surfaces around you.
    • Masks can also reduce spread from those who are infected with the virus but do not know it.
  • In addition to these measures, wearing a non-medical mask may help you if you find yourself in a place where you cannot distance yourself from others.
  • If you wear a non-medical mask, please note that it can become a source of infection when damp or wet. Disposable masks should be discarded after each use. Assume that any mask is contaminated after you wear it.

Homemade cloth masks have not been proven to protect the person wearing them from COVID-19 and they are not a substitute for physical distancing and good hand hygiene.

  • Continue to practice physical distancing and hand washing.
  • Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off.
  • Do not touch your face while using it.
  • Do not share it with others.
  • Change it as soon as it gets damp or soiled by putting it directly into the washing machine or a plastic bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then thrown out.
  • Wash the mask using a hot cycle and then dry it thoroughly.
  • Do not embroider or add beadwork, as this will poke large holes into the cloth.

Gloves when out in public:

  • Gloves do not stop the transfer of germs to the face.
  • Instead of using gloves remember to:
    • Limit contact with high touch surfaces (door handles, light switches, touchpads, etc).
    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Wash hands with soap and water frequently.

For Those Living or Working in Siksika, COVID-19 Testing is Available for People WITH or WITHOUT SYMPTOMS:

Quickly self-isolating and getting tested if you feel unwell with ANY NEW or CHANGE in symptoms, even if they are mild, remains the most important way to limit the spread of COVID19 in the community

If you feel unwell or have ANY new symptoms or change in symptoms like a cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle/joint aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, altered smell or taste, stay home and call the medical clinic during business hours, or the COVID-19 Response Unit (CRU) 403-734-3829 (available 24/7) to get tested as quickly as possible.

If you DO NOT have symptoms and one of the following categories applies to you, please get tested:

  1. You are a household or other contact of anyone who has symptoms, or who was a suspect, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  2. You are an essential worker, front-line worker, or caregiver who works with clients/patients/customers outside of your home, or you work within other peoples homes. Examples of workers in this category include healthcare workers, law enforcement, front-line service providers in other Siksika service areas and businesses, security, custodians, drivers, tellers, and those who work in group homes, shelters or other group living facilities.
  3. You have returned to Siksika within 14 days of any of the following:
    • Being in an area, site or facility that has or recently had a COVID19 outbreak
    • Working in or being discharged from a healthcare facility
    • Working or living in a group living site like long term care or assisted living, shelters, correctional facilities, work and recreation camps, or group homes
    • Working in an industrial facility like a meat processing plant, logistics or distribution centre, or oil and gas refinery.
    • You have traveled outside the province of Alberta

If you are within one of these higher risk categories, you can repeat testing every two weeks as long as you continue to have NO symptoms. Those who develop ANY symptoms should be re-tested immediately.

To organize regular work-place testing every two weeks for worksites or group living sites with front-line workers and caregivers, managers should contact cdc@siksikahealth.com or 403-734-5720.

Its very important that matapiiks (Siksika Nation members) get tested for COVID-19 because it will help the Siksika Medical Team track any cases of the virus and prevent it from spreading to more people. The identity of those who get tested and their household is confidential information that is protected by public health.

What Does a COVID-19 Test Involve?

The test for COVID-19 is a throat swab, which is quick and not painful. It may cause a bit of gagging, especially in young children, but this is not different than a throat swab done to when people have a sore throat. If someone is unable to get a throat swab, a nose swab can be done, which is also quick but may be a bit uncomfortable.

When a Person is Tested:

  • The entire household may be asked to stay home and isolate to limit the spread in the community if results come back positive for COVID-19 (see “Isolation to Limit COVID-19 Spread”).
  • Every person with symptoms who is tested will receive a follow-up on the same or next day by a Community Health Nurse, who checks on their health and informs them of their test results. Test results typically return in 1 day.
  • Every person without symptoms who is tested may receive a follow-up from an AHS auto-dialer.

If your test result is negative, you may still develop COVID-19 if you have been exposed to the virus in the last 14 days. The long incubation period of COVID-19 means that we may not know the outcome for those who are exposed for up to two weeks after their exposure. If someone is infected, they may not show symptoms or become infectious for up to two weeks. Some may not show symptoms at all. Its important to continue monitoring for symptoms.

Additional Option To Access Test Results:

If you’ve been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting test results, you may be able to access your own lab results online. Those with a MyAlberta Digital ID can access their MyHealth Records by visiting https://myhealth.alberta.ca/myhealthrecords. If you do not have a MyAlberta Digital ID, you can set one up by visiting the same link.

Everyone tested for COVID-19 will be notified of their test results. Negative test results may take longer to communicate because of the large volume of COVID-19 tests being done at this time.

Isolation information for people WITH symptoms:

If you feel unwell or have any symptoms like a cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle/joint aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, altered smell or taste, stay home and get tested as quickly as possible.

Every person with symptoms who is tested will receive a follow-up call on the same or next day by a Community Health Nurse, who checks on their health and informs them of their results, usually within 1 day. Test results are confidential and protected personal health information.

For people with symptoms who get tested for COVID-19, the entire household will be asked to isolate while waiting for test results, in order to limit the spread in the community if results come back positive for COVID-19. If the test comes back negative (no COVID-19), isolation for the household may be lifted (the Community Health Nurse will provide direction), however people with symptoms should continue self-isolating for 10 days, or until their symptoms go away completely (whichever is longer).

Isolation information for people WITHOUT symptoms:

Individuals who do not have symptoms but receive COVID-19 testing will not need to self-isolate unless they are asked to do so by a Community Health Nurse or other member of Siksika’s public health team. If an individual is a household or close contact of someone with symptoms, or a household or close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they will likely be required to self-isolate.

Isolation information for people who test positive for COVID-19:

If your COVID-19 test result is positive, you will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days, even if you do not have symptoms. Anyone who has been in close contact with you would also need to self-isolate.

General Isolation Information:

Its important to continue monitoring for symptoms. A negative test does not mean someone does not need to self-isolate – they should follow the instructions provided by the Community Health Nurse or Public Health Team member.

Siksika has developed some compassionate isolation options for those who cannot isolate safely at home. If this is something you believe that you or someone in your household requires or may benefit from, be sure to tell the Community Health Nurse when they call. Siksika Health Services may be able to support individuals and households that are isolating with food and supplies, prescriptions, and medical care, as needed.

Self-Isolation