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“Hit us all at once:” Northern Saskatchewan community sees COVID surge, lack of water

REGINA – Almost a month has passed since Diane McDonald last saw her mother, who lives next door.

Her sisters and cousin visit but besides them, she says, her door stays locked to keep others away.

Adjusting to the reality of social isolation is hard on people in Fond du Lac Denesuline Nation, one of Saskatchewan’s northernmost communities, located near the Northwest Territories boundary.

Two weeks ago, the fly-in community of about 1,000 people reported its first case of COVID-19.

As of Saturday, it had 63 total cases — 55 of them active — and more than 300 close contacts were in isolation — about 30 per cent of the population.

“It’s very difficult for families not to visit each other because in a small community like this, everybody loves visiting,” McDonald, who’s co-ordinating the community’s pandemic response, told The Canadian Press.

“There are people that are upset and people that are frustrated … the morale in the community is down.”

Saskatchewan health officials have reported 64 active cases in the province’s Far North region.

The Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority said the area’s daily new case rate per 100,000 is 12 times higher than the provincial average.

“It’s really very concerning,” said Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, medical health officer with the organization, which serves different First Nations.

He said the novel coronavirus arrived in Fond du Lac through travel.

Over the summer, McDonald said many residents travelled for medical…

Stephanie Taylor

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