COVID fourth wave driven by travel and family gatherings

The fourth wave of COVID-19 currently sweeping Six Nations is the result of travel and family gatherings among community members, according to Ohsweken Public Health.

As Six Nations deals with the highest infection rate in the province, the community is also mourning the 12th death related to COVID-19.

This is the first COVID death since April.

SNGR issued a statement on Monday, expressing condolences to the woman’s loved ones for their loss.

Meanwhile, the outbreak on Six Nations continues to rise. At the last reporting on Monday there were 46 active cases, 10 of which are the Delta variant. There were 181 people in self isolation and 4 people in hospital.

In the last seven days, 6 of the infections were in people who are fully vaccinated.

The increase in cases comes as the Delta variant winds its way through the community, with 24% of cases screening positive for the variant currently circulating the globe.

Ohsweken Public Health estimates that the Delta variant arrived in the community around Aug. 26, when it received confirmation from a lab that a community member’s test results screened positive for the variant.

OPH says the variant is of concern because it is more infectious and more aggressive than previous COVID-19 variants (Alpha and Beta). All Six Nations COVID swabs are screened for variants, said OPH.

OPH also confirmed that those who are unvaccinated are experiencing more severe symptoms of COVID than those who are.

Currently, around 50 per cent of on-reserve Six Nations residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – far below the provincial average of close to 80 per cent.

Because of the sudden jump in cases, Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council moved the community into a heightened COVID alert state last week, according to its colour-coded alert system.

The community is currently in alert level orange, with relatively moderate restrictions on gatherings. The next level is red, which imposes further restrictions on gatherings, and finally, black, the highest alert level, which discourages any contact outside the immediate household and only essential businesses are permitted to operate.

Six Nations schools, which just re-opened this month after a year and a half of remote learning, remain open under this alert level.

It’s not known if schools or businesses will be asked to close again as the fourth wave peaks in the community. There are currently 41 active cases as of press time, with 32 of those cases testing positive in the last week alone.

Six Nations Health Services and OPH are urging community members to get vaccinated, saying the increase in cases places a higher burden on an already “overwhelmed” health care system.

“SNHS and OPH continue to encourage community members to wear masks, avoid large gatherings, wash hands regularly, and get vaccinated to protect themselves and others who can’t be vaccinated due to age or health status.”

Six Nations has a rate of 281 infections per 100,000 people. The City of Hamilton’s rate is 49 cases per 100,000 people.

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