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News ᑎᐹᒋᒧᐧᐃᓐ

Covid cases down nationally, even as fourth wave surges elsewhere

BY Ben Powless Jul 17, 2021

The Cree Health Board said that until more people get vaccinated, including young children, Covid prevention measures would remain in place, especially with the spread of new variants. The health board also encouraged people to take advantage of newer, less-intrusive gargle testing available at all community clinics when returning to Eeyou Istchee.

All Cree communities have now fully vaccinated at least 70% of their adult populations. Wemindji has the highest rate at 90% while both Mistissini and Waskaganish trail the pack at 71%. Still, the rate of full vaccination is nearly double the average (37%) in the general population across Canada. 

Among 12-17-year-olds, 97% have received their first dose in Waskaganish, while only 57% of this age group in Waswanipi have had a shot. 

As of mid-June, fully vaccinated individuals were exempt from all mandatory self-isolation requirements when returning to Eeyou Istchee from outside communities. Otherwise, unvaccinated travellers were still required to isolate 10 days when returning from communities at risk. Deconfinement measures remained the same, allowing for indoor gatherings of 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 150. 

Case counts continued to fall across Quebec and much of the country, with average daily case counts below 100 in Quebec, the lowest numbers since August 2020. Eeyou Istchee, Nord-du-Québec, and Abitibi-Témiscamingue were all reporting no active cases, while Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean reported only three active cases.

Vaccinations also proceeded across Quebec, with over 81% of those 12 and up receiving at least a first dose, and 37% receiving both doses. 

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said there wouldn’t be another lockdown if there was a fourth wave, but that individuals may be required to show proof of vaccination to access certain services. Public health officials expected an upturn in cases as people head back to work and school in the fall, and as variants continued to spread. 

While cases were declining across Canada, another wave of the pandemic was being felt elsewhere around the world. Parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America saw the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant. Even places that had previously done well, including Australia, are now under strict restrictions to prevent further spread of the virus.

Canadians and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated no longer need to complete the 14-day quarantine when returning to the country. Travellers will be forced to show electronic proofs of vaccination through a new government app, as well as meeting other requirements.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that other measures to reopen the US-Canada border would be rolled out in the coming weeks. 

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Ben Powless is a Kanien'kehá:ka and Anishnabek writer and photographer, currently living in Ottawa. He has a degree in Human Rights, Indigenous and Environmental Studies from Carleton University.