Kettle and Stony Point chief urges vigilance in wake of major COVID-19 outbreak
Chief Jason Henry of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation
LONDON, ONT. -- The chief of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation is urging residents to be vigilante as the community grapples with a major COVID-19 outbreak.
Jason Henry took to Facebook Wednesday with a video message to the community to stress the seriousness of the outbreak.
“After nearly a year of being involved in a global pandemic we let our guard down a little bit and the virus crept in.”
The chief tells CTV news 20 new positive cases were confirmed on Wednesday, bringing the total to 22 in the community of about 1,000 people.
He says of the 50 tests that were conducted Monday, all 20 of the results received so far have come back positive.
“Indigenous communities, we have a lot of large families, multi-generational homes, and the spread happens quite quickly,” he said.
He adds that he expects the outbreak to grow as more results come in.
“When the youth population gets involved, and young people, children, it’s not their fault. They want to be out playing, tobogganing, playing hockey, out skating, whatever it might be. Spread happens very easily. So just based on family dynamics, on our school system, we suspect that the outbreak is higher than we know based on contact tracing and family dynamics in the community.”
Hillside School was closed on Monday until March 15 as a precaution. Students who attend off-reserve schools have been asked to study at home.
Chief Henry is asking community members to go back to the level of pandemic protocols that were being exercised at the beginning of the pandemic.
“My message is to remain steadfast. Stay home. Stay safe. Wash our hands. Wear masks out in public. Practice physical distancing. And go back to that social distancing aspect. Stay within your household. Stay within your bubble. If you have been out and exposed in the community where we know that we have an undocumented spread, get tested.”
According to Kettle and Stony Point There have been 35 cases in total in the first nation community, with 13 resolved.
Chief Henry says Lambton Public Health is working with the community to help contain the virus.
In the meantime, vaccinations on the reserve are expected to get underway March 9.