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:
- Sore Throat
- Runny Nose
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms May Also Include:
- Muscle/joint aches
- Loss of appetite
- Altered smell or taste
Most people have mild symptoms and can recover at home.
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 403-734-5688, 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.
Siksika Health Services provides public health guidance for Siksika Nation to help Siksikawa make informed decisions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance will be updated as required, and can be applied to group activities, work meetings, community programming, cultural activities, other community events, therapy sessions, funerals, wakes, memorials, etc. Following of public health measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep the community safe.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, Siksika Nation has continuously maintained stricter requirements than Alberta because we have a higher risk of severe consequences in Siksika due to living circumstances, overcrowding, and the high prevalence of chronic conditions.
Siksika COVID-19 Risk Scale & Reopening Plan
To support this guidance, Siksika Health Services developed a COVID-19 Risk Scale, which defines risk level associated with local COVID-19 activity.
On June 25, 2021, Siksika Nation was in a position to ease COVID restrictions due to stability in case numbers of COVID-19 on the Nation, and immunization coverage. As a result, Siksika Nation moved to a GREEN – LOW RISK level on the COVID-19 Risk Scale from a YELLOW-moderate risk level to a GREEN-low risk level, on the recommendation of Siksika’s Public Health Team.
Further to this, Siksika Health Services recommends the COVID-19 Reopening Plan for Siksika Nation (see below), which outlines public health considerations for planning and attendance of gatherings, events, and activities on Siksika.
The proposed Reopening Plan expands on the guidance previously provided under the GREEN-low risk level status, based on collective community immunity level. Progression from one phase to the next depends on required conditions being met.
The Reopening Plan outlines considerations, not requirements, for Siksikawa to make informed choices to keep themselves and others safe as we make continued progress regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, Siksika Nation has continuously maintained stricter recommendations than Alberta because we have a higher risk of severe consequences in Siksika due to living circumstances, overcrowding, and the high prevalence of chronic conditions. Despite the easing of restrictions across Alberta, Siksika’s Public Health team reminds us that COVID-19 and associated risks have not been resolved completely, and that these risks are more pronounced for certain populations:
- Unvaccinated individuals – eligible individuals who are not yet vaccinated have not built up immunity to coronavirus from a vaccine.
- Children under the age of 12 – a COVID vaccine has not yet been approved in Canada for this population. As a result, this age group does not yet have access to the immunity to coronavirus from a vaccine.
- Immunocompromised – those with weakened immune systems have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases.
COVID-19 cases and transmission will continue to be monitored. If required, a phase may be paused, or it may be necessary to return to previous phase in response to rising COVID-19 cases, and/or health resources capacity.
The recommendations outlined in Siksika Nation’s COVID Reopening plan applies to Siksika Nation only. Alberta public health guidance is in effect for the rest of the province.
Significance of Immunization Coverage:
COVID vaccine coverage is an important required criteria for Siksika to progress from one phase of its Reopening Plan to the next. Community immunity happens when a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease through vaccination or prior illness to make its spread from person to person unlikely.
This community immunity acts as a barrier against the disease, with the immune people breaking the potential chain of transmission so those vulnerable populations are unlikely to get it.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to you is our shot at putting this pandemic behind us and enjoying ceremonies and celebrations. This is our shot, let’s do what we can to protect our elders, families and communities.
On July 1st, Alberta removed most of its COVID-19 restrictions. For some of us, this may be positive and exciting news; for others, this might make us feel nervous or uncomfortable. After all, these public health measures have become part of our daily lives. At this point in time, some risks associated with COVID-19 remain; there are still active cases across Alberta. If you feel most comfortable continuing to follow the public health measures, that’s absolutely okay, and you are not alone!
Heres a reminder of recommended public health measures that can help protect ourselves and one another by reducing the spread of COVID-19:
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 403-734-5688, 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.
For Those Living or Working in Siksika, COVID-19 Testing is Available Locally, via Siksika Health Services
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) 403-734-5688 (available 24/7) to get tested as quickly as possible.
Testing will be offered to Siksika Nation members, and to those who live or work in Siksika, Gleichen, Cluny or Arrowood. Those from other areas seeking testing can book online at www.ahs.ca/covid or by calling HealthLink at 811.
Its very important that matapiiks (Siksika Nation members) get tested for COVID-19 because it will help Siksika Health Services’ public health 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 by a Community Health Nurse, who checks on their health and informs them of their test results.
- 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. It’s 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.
Self-isolating helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people you could infect if you become sick. COVID-19 can take up to 14 days after being exposed, for a person to become infectious or experience symptoms. Some matapiiks who get it will have minor symptoms, or no symptoms at all, but could still spread the virus. By staying home, you are showing your family and friends that you care of them.
How to safely isolate at home:
- Choose a room in your house where sick family members can use.
- Sick individuals should wear a non-medical mask and try to maintain at least 2 metres of distance from others when in the same room.
- Ensure regular cleaning and disinfection of any commonly touched surfaces, including the bathroom if it is shared.
- Plan for friends or family to drop off food or other things you may need and have the basic necessities to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.
- Dont share household items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels and pillows.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and if your hands are not visibly dirty. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze
Individuals with symptoms (exceptions may apply for fully vaccinated people – see below)
Matapiiks with symptoms are legally required to isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer, unless they test negative at the time of their symptoms AND have no known exposure to the virus. You should still stay home until your symptoms resolve so you don’t spread illness that can be mistaken for COVID-19.
Close contacts of confirmed case (exceptions may apply for fully vaccinated people – see below)
If you are a close contact of person with COVID, you are legally required to isolate for 14 days from the time you were exposed and monitor for symptoms. If you become sick with a known COVID-19 symptom during this time, you must isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or until you are feeling well, whichever takes longer.
Tested Positive for COVID-19
Matapiiks who have tested positive for COVID-19 are legally required to isolate for 10 days. The Siksika CDC team will follow up with COVID-19 positive individuals in order to contain further spread and support individuals. They will also provide information and guidance on isolation requirements to individuals, and follow up throughout their isolation.
Isolation Requirements for Fully Vaccinated Albertans:
If you are fully immunized (14 days or more after receiving your second dose of COVID vaccine) and are exposed to a COVID-19 case:
- If you have no symptoms, you are not required to isolate.
- If you do have symptoms, you must isolate for 10 days and should get tested on day 7 or later of your isolation, your isolation can end early if you test negative and your symptoms have resolved.
If you are partially immunized (you have received only one dose OR it has been less than 14 days after receiving your second dose) and are exposed to a COVID-19 case:
- You must isolate for 10 days regardless of whether or not you have symptoms.
- You should get tested on day 7 or later of your isolation – your isolation can end early if you test negative and your symptoms have resolved.
Those who have compromised immune systems are considered partially immunized, even if they have received both doses. Those who have compromised immune systems are considered not immunized, if they have received one dose. Unimmunized contacts with symptoms must isolate until their symptoms have resolved.