Chief of Manitoba First Nation hit with COVID-19 calls for military to step in

WINNIPEG — A chief of a northern Manitoba First Nation is calling for the military to step in as the community faces an outbreak of COVID-19 cases which has grown to 60 cases.

Late Sunday evening, Shamattawa First Nation Chief Eric Redhead sent an urgent message to members of the community – stay home.

“I’m lost for words right now,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, after reporting 30 new cases of COVID-19 had been reported on the community that day.

“We have more members of the rapid response team coming tomorrow. I am also pushing for the Canadian military to help with their medical expertise.”

On Monday, Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton said the outbreak on Shamattawa had grown to 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In a letter to the federal Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan, Ashton echoed the chief’s calls for military support.

“The acute housing crisis in Shamattawa has meant that COVID-19 has spread much faster than in other communities and people do not have the ability to self-isolate,” Ashton wrote in the letter.

“There are other concerns including the recent rise in the number of people with tuberculosis in Shamattawa. There is worry that TB in addition to other chronic illnesses could make people more susceptible to a severe case of COVID-19.”

Ashton said the community needs help from the Canadian Forces.

“This kind of urgent help is needed now for Shamattawa. Help is needed to test and contact trace,” Ashton said. “Help is also needed to set up logistics regarding self-isolation and communicating public health orders. Time is of the essence.”

CTV News has reached out to the Chief of Shamattawa for more information.

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