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Saddle Lake begins two-week shutdown, Hinshaw continues to plead with Albertans

Hinshaw says she's disappointed in those who look for loopholes
File photo

LAKELAND - With a continued increase in COVID-19 cases across the province, at least one local First Nations community is now entered into what has been described as a two-week shutdown, or "circuit breaker."

As of Nov. 18, Saddle Lake Cree Nation has entered into its two-week shutdown, with the goal being to limit and reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the nation. 

"Throughout the past few weeks SLCN has experienced a significant increase of COVID-19 cases. We all have a responsibility to prevent the increase of this very contagious virus, by taking all public health measures seriously," reads information from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, Emergency Management Group.

Only essential services such as water, sewer and garbage are open. COVID testing, contact tracing, referral, medical and home care services are being limited and kept to high needs situations only.

"All community members who work, attend school, or participate in activities, events, sports off-reserve should adhere to the guidelines," according to the information released by Saddle Lake Cree Nation.

To date, a number of locations in Saddle Lake have been deemed to be an outbreak by FNIHB, including: a band meeting previously held, Saddle Lake Health Care Centre, Bison Auto, more than one funeral, and family gatherings.

The information released also speaks to public health orders that can be legally enforced and states fines can be issued. The shutdown will last until Dec. 2.

Not long after the announcement was made, Whitefish Lake (Goodfish Lake) First Nation posted a notice, limiting access to Whitefish by residents from Saddle Lake. 

"Therefore, due to high cases of COVID-19 with Saddle Lake membership, WFLFN Emergency Management Team are encouraging limited access to the WFL stores, for Saddle Lake residents," reads the posting. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but we thank you in advance for your patronage and understanding."

As of Tuesday evening, Saddle Lake Cree Nation was reporting 44 active cases, and 96 recovered cases, along with one case in hospital.

During Wednesday afternoon's provincial update, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw put out another plea to Albertans to abide by the measures that are in place and work toward slowing the spread of the virus.

She noted that she has heard of cases where sports groups in urban centres have been looking for loop holes to continue playing, such as moving practices to an outside community that isn't under the enhanced measures.

According to Wednesday's update, there were 732 new cases of the virus, and 11 deaths in the past 24 hours.

The Government of Alberta's status map continues to show much of the region under enhanced status, although the additional measures that are in place for sports teams and group fitness classes do not affect the Lakeland region.

On Wednesday afternoon, immediately following Hinshaw's update, the status map was showing:

20 active cases in the County of St. Paul region 

68 active cases in Smoky Lake County region

29 cases in the MD of Bonnyville region

25 cases in the City of Cold Lake

14 cases in Lac La Biche County

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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