A First Nations community in Northern Ontario that was recently evacuated amid a tainted water crisis has reported its first case of the novel coronavirus, its chief confirmed Friday.
In a tweet, Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias said that he was recently informed of a positive case of COVID-19 involving a contractor working in the community.
“We have developed very strict pandemic protocols to allow for contractors to enter the community without the presence of COVID-19,” read Moonias’ statement.
“We are investigating how this was possible given our protocols.”
A full lockdown of Neskantaga First Nation will now be going forward, with passenger flights grounded until an investigation is conducted.
Moonias assured that despite the case, the risk to community members still there is considered to be low as contractors were to be kept separate.
The chief’s statement, however, mandated “all parties” on the ground to go to a nursing station immediately to get tested as a precautionary measure.
More than 250 members in Neskantaga have been evacuated to Thunder Bay since October after an oily substance was found in the community’s water reservoir, triggering a plant shutdown that left the First Nations without running water.
The community, which also has Canada’s longest running water boil advisory of about 25 years, will not see its residents go back home for at least another three weeks.
Even then, residents would not go back to clean drinking water, as a letter from Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller obtained by Global News and Concordia University’s Institute for Investigative Journalism (IIJ) said officials expect to have clean running water in the community by Dec. 11.
The federal government is now investigating the role of construction companies in the community’s water crisis.