La Loche, a former Saskatchewan COVID-19 hotspot, hits 0 active cases

Click to play video: 'La Loche COVID-19 victim’s family warns others to take the disease seriously' La Loche COVID-19 victim’s family warns others to take the disease seriously
A La Loche woman's plea for her Saskatchewan community to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously. After a months-long battle, the area is at zero active cases. – Jul 2, 2020

After a months-long battle to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, the La Loche area is now at zero active cases.

“It’s a nice feeling, but we know that we’ve still got to be cautious,” said La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre.

“It’s not one of those things that once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s one of those things that it’s gone today but it could be back tomorrow.”

Read more: ‘We could be in a lot of trouble’: COVID-19 cases in La Loche area doubles

The coronavirus caseload in the Northern Village of La Loche and the nearby Clearwater River Dene Nation — located about 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon — hit the 200-mark in May. The mayor said that five community members with COVID-19 died.

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“It was stressful. There was anxiety there. You’ve got what-ifs. You got this and that happening. It was some challenging times,” St. Pierre said.

The majority of area residents are acutely aware of the pervasiveness of the virus and the importance of distancing and sanitizing protocols, he said.

“A lot of local people are masking up all the time. They understand the importance of it,” St. Pierre said.

“We’ve all had to make some changes in our own personal lives and I think that will continue in our community.”

Read more: La Loche COVID-19 victim’s family warns others to take the disease seriously

While businesses have reopened, the mayor said the community is not dealing with jam-packed public spaces, St. Pierre said, adding that people are cautiously expanding their social circles.

A delayed funeral was finally held in the community earlier in the week, said the mayor. Another is scheduled for the weekend.

St. Pierre noted the last flare-up in the area was linked to a funeral.

Read more: 2 people who attended Clearwater River Dene Nation funeral test positive for coronavirus

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“People have learned from that how quickly this virus can spread and how quickly someone can bring it into the community and what can occur,” he said.

“It’s nice to be at zero and just take a day or two to enjoy that and then get back to work and figure out what we’re going to do for the next wave or the next flare up and have those lessons learned from what we experienced and apply them to the next go around.”

Although the La Loche area has eradicated the virus for the time being, it is now notably present in Saskatchewan’s southwest.

“We’re all going to go through the same processes. As long as you listen to your health professionals and follow their guidelines and work together, people need to work together.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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