COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: active cases in First Nations continue downward trend

Active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities are continuing on a downward trend, though new infections persist. 

Indigenous Services data shows, as of Feb. 15, more than 400 new infections compared to the week before. The highest number of those new cases, 149, were reported out of British Columbia. 

There are currently 1,484 active cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves across Canada, according to the latest federal data. 

Amid ongoing concern about the spread of new, more contagious coronavirus variants, two remote First Nations in Manitoba have been waiting on the National Microbiology Lab this week to find out if the B117 variant is spreading in their communities. 

One of those communities is Pauingassi First Nation in Manitoba, where the Canadian Armed Forces has been providing humanitarian assistance since earlier this month after a concerning spike in COVID-19 cases.

14 new deaths reported

Since the pandemic began, reserve communities across the country have seen a total of 19,068 cases of COVID-19, and 204 people have died.

Fourteen of those deaths were reported by Indigenous Services Canada in the last week.

The total number of hospitalizations has risen to 871, while 17,380 First Nations people have recovered from the disease. 

Total cases in First Nations communities per region reported as of Feb. 15:

  • British Columbia: 2,047.
  • Alberta: 5,570.
  • Saskatchewan: 5,197.
  • Manitoba: 4,951.
  • Ontario: 737.
  • Quebec: 556.
  • Atlantic: 10.

The data published by Indigenous Services does not reflect cases among First Nations people who live off-reserve, or the impact of COVID-19 among Métis and Inuit. 

In Nunavut, active cases of COVID-19 continue to persist. All of the current infections are isolated to the hamlet of Arviat, where travel is currently restricted to emergency or essential purposes. There were 23 active cases of COVID-19 in the community as of Tuesday

Vaccine rollout ongoing 

Vaccination clinics are ongoing in the territory, and across the country. 

Dr. Darlene Kitty, right, got vaccinated with her mother, Jane, and father, David, at the start of the Cree health board’s regional vaccination campaign, which began last month. (CBHSSJB/Marcel Grogorick)

As of Feb. 12, Indigenous Services Canada reported 400 Indigenous communities with vaccination campaigns underway. It also reported that 78,000 doses of vaccine had been administered in those communities. 

In B.C., the First Nations Health Authority announced on Tuesday  it is on track to provide a first dose of vaccine to anyone on-reserve who wants it by the end of March.  

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • New or worsening cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Temperature equal to or over 38 C.
  • Feeling feverish.
  • Chills.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • New loss of smell or taste.
  • Headache.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting).
  • Feeling very unwell.

If you think you may have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic. 

CBC Indigenous is looking to hear from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have contracted or lost a loved one to COVID-19. If you would like to share your story, please email us at

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