'Exactly what we were afraid of': COVID-19 spreading among Sandy Bay First Nation children
WINNIPEG -- COVID-19 cases are growing among children on Sandy Bay First Nation in Manitoba.
"I think where it started at the beginning was two children that are going to schools outside of the reserve," said the community's pandemic coordinator Virginia Lukianchuk.
"We've had remote learning in our community for some time because this is exactly what we were afraid of."
Lukianchuk said there are currently 31 active COVID-19 cases in the community. Of those, 16 are among children under the age of 18 -- some as young as 16 months old.
Currently, 37 homes are in isolation.
"It is really concerning, but we also have to remember that a lot of the homes are overcrowded," said Lukianchuk.
"There are a lot of children in one home, and if you have one positive child, it's hard to get them to isolate from the other children, so this is where we're seeing the spread within homes."
Most of the cases are the B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the Alpha variant.
Lukianchuk said the community has been under a stay-at-home order for several weeks, has an 11 p.m. curfew in place, and has been following the provincial COVID-19 rules and restrictions.
She said approximately 50 per cent of Sandy Bay's adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 25 per cent has been fully vaccinated.
Across the province, data up until June 10 shows 50.3 per cent of those living on reserve have been fully vaccinated while 31.9 per cent of First Nations people off-reserve have received both doses.
Pfizer is currently the only vaccine approved for those aged 12 to 17, but Moderna is what has been primarily available for First Nations communities.
"We have allocated Pfizer doses to our First Nations partners to be able to ensure that all youth who would like to be vaccinated on First Nations are able to," said Johanu Botha, co-lead of Manitoba's Vaccine Implementation Task Force.
Clinics have been held in Sandy Bay and will continue to help vaccinate youth.
"[Uptake is] not as good as we would like, but we're still seeing a pretty good uptake," said Lukianchuk.
"It's been a lot better just in this past week because of the numbers of the virus spreading amongst children, so we are getting a decent uptake now."
Members of Sandy Bay are being reminded to only leave their homes for essential reasons and to not gather with anyone outside their household at this time.