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.

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.

Keep distance from other people: wear a mask whenever you are indoors in common areas or shared spaces with people outside 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. Wear a mask whenever you are indoors in common areas or shared spaces with people outside 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:
    • Wear a mask whenever you are indoors in common areas or shared spaces with people outside your household
    • 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.

Siksika Nation Chief & Council passed a motion on July 23 which requires face masks to be worn in all Siksika Nation-owned buildings, beginning Aug. 1, 2020.

It is important to note that wearing a mask or face covering is not a substitute for physical distancing and good hand hygiene.

  • 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 METRES AWAY from others when out for essential supplies.

Wearing Masks:

  • 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 infected with the virus but do not know it.
  • Masks may help when in places where you cannot physically distance from others.

Guidance for Mask Use:

  • Continue to practice physical distancing and hand washing, even while wearing a mask.
  • Wear a mask whenever you are indoors in common areas or shared spaces with people outside your household
  • Before and after using a mask, wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol.
  • Ensure your hair is away from your face when wearing a mask. A face mask can be safely worn by someone with facial hair.
  • Check the mask for damage before use. If it is damaged, do not use the mask – discard it and replace with a mask that is not damaged.
  • Ensure the mask fully covers from above the nose to below the chin.
  • Refrain from touching your face while using a mask or face covering.
  • It is important to not share face masks with other people.
  • When wearing a 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.
  • If a mask is single use (disposable), dispose of it in a lined garbage bin after use.
  • If a mask is reusable, place it in a clean plastic bag after use, and clean it thoroughly before reusing.
  • Wash reusable masks using a hot cycle in the wash machine, and then dry it thoroughly.
  • Do not embroider or add beadwork to a mask, as this will poke large holes in the cloth.

Exceptions to Mandatory Masking:

Beginning August 1, 2020, masks are required in all Siksika Nation-owned buildings/facilities. Exceptions include:

  • When eating, provided physical distancing, hand hygiene and sanitation of surfaces is maintained.
  • When alone in an office or workspace that is NOT shared, and where physical distancing, hand hygiene and sanitization of surfaces is maintained.
  • Young children under two years of age.
  • People with underlying medical conditions or disabilities inhibiting their ability to wear a face covering.
  • People who are unable to place, use, or remove a face covering safely without assistance.
  • People engaging in an athletic or fitness activity.
  • In circumstances where a mask detrimentally interferes with an activity or service (for example, lip reading or dentist visit).

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 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.

How to Isolate at Home