The collective efforts of community members and local partners have helped to slow the spread of COVID-19 in both the Kenora area and the Wabaseemoong Independent Nation community.

Overall, Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, says the Kenora region is generally seeing a noticeable decrease in COVID-19 cases after a significant spike last month.

“We know that the community that was most-affected are seeing a decrease in numbers, due in part to the effort of their members and community to support isolation and to do what they needed to do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s been really great on the part of that community.”

The community of Wabaseemoong Independent Nations went under a strict lockdown as of February 10, after Chief Waylon Scott said a number of community members tested positive for COVID-19. Safety measures include a checkpoint and curfew for the community of about 2,000.

Kenora-Rainy River MPP and Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Energy and Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford, announced Ontario purchased an additional 300 COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare staff in Wabaseemoong earlier this week, to help contain the virus.

Rickford has said the situation is considered ‘under control’ from his perspective, but Young Hoon wasn’t ready to say the outbreak is considered over yet, as monitoring of all potential close contacts of COVID-19 cases is continuing in the Kenora area.

“It’s definitely heading in that direction. There’s been significant improvement and that’s really good. The entire community made a huge effort to control the spread,” said Young Hoon.

In their latest weekly COVID-19 summary, published March 2, the NWHU reported a total of 29 active cases of COVID-19 in Kenora, as well as 13 active cases in the Sioux Lookout region. There were 83 active cases listed for the Kenora area one week ago, prompting concern in the community.

“It’s definitely going in the right direction, but it takes a little while for the situation to completely go away. There will be the occasional case now and again. I think it might take a couple of weeks for it to really feel like it’s gone down to a really low level,” Young Hoon explains.

Staff helping the Wabaseemoong community include those from the NWHU, the Kenora Chiefs Advisory, Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Team Rubicon, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, among other community and healthcare partners.

A number of businesses in Kenora recently gathered and collected over $20,000 of cash and in-kind donations for the Wabaseemoong community, which includes 352 kits for youth.

For more information:
Rickford: ‘Things are under control’ in Wabaseemoong
Dr. Kit Young Hoon addresses discrimination during outbreak