Military sent to help Manitoba First Nation battling COVID-19

WINNIPEG — The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is heading to a Manitoba First Nation to help with surging COVID-19 case numbers.

In an email to CTV News on Saturday, the CAF said it is sending approximately six Canadian Rangers to Shamattawa First Nation, located in Northern Manitoba.

The rangers will help distribute resources, assist with giving residents information, provide logistical support and integrate into the local Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) command post in the community.

In an update posted to Facebook, Chief Eric Redhead said the community of about 1,300 people has 144 cases of the virus.

Redhead said the troops will create a field hospital to limit the spread and help with contract tracing.

“This is not the end all. The only way to beat this is for everyone to stay home don’t allow visitors, limit your contact with others until we beat this,” he said on Facebook.

Grand Chief Garrison Settee of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. said it was excellent news.

“It is not unusual for many people to live in one household,” said Settee in a press release. “Overcrowded housing is a breeding ground for the COVID-19 virus.”

The MKO also said members of the Bear Clan and the Canadian Red Cross are also arriving in Shamattawa this weekend to help with the COVID-19 outbreak

The remote community is also dealing with an outbreak of tuberculosis.

The Canadian Rangers have been requested to stay for 30 days in hopes that numbers have declined by then.

“The Canadian Armed Forces will support the community of Shamattawa until the emergency has abated and the province, along with other federal and private sector resources are able to effectively support the community,” said a military spokesperson in an email.

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