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Northern Alberta First Nation requires masks in public following first COVID-19 case

FORT MCKAY, Alta. — The chief of a northern Alberta First Nation says masks are now mandatory after the community learned of its first COVID-19 case.

Fort McKay First Nation Chief Mel Grandjamb announced the positive test in a video message posted to Facebook on Friday, and he says that protective masks will now be necessary for everyone outside of their homes and yards in the community.

Trips into and out of the First Nation will be limited to one per day, and travel within the community is strongly discouraged.

Grandjamb asked members to make sure youth stay at home, too.

He also asked people not to blame the person who tested positive, and encouraged the community to stick together.

He says contact tracing is being done, and that anyone who gets a call from health authorities should co-operate with them.

"The minute you're out in the community, any public buildings, masks are mandatory. We will be monitoring the compliance and we will be talking to the individuals in the event of non-compliance," Grandjamb said in the announcement.

"It's proven from a number of studies and things that we read that masks will prevent the spread."

Grandjamb said the community has had a plan since March 9 for what to do in the event of a positive test, and is following it.

He noted the announcement was not about instilling fear, and said essential service personnel will be required to undergo advanced screening.

Commercial drivers entering the community will also be screened.

"We have seen from observations in other communities that as the names of affected individuals are revealed that they can face negativity towards them," he said.

"Let's remember we are all family in this community."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press