Walpole Island declares state of emergency

Walpole Island band council discussing the natural gas expansion at the library. August 10, 2016. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Walpole Island First Nation has declared a local state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declaration was issued on Monday and allows the First Nation community to activate the Emergency Response Plan to access funds and support.

“By declaring a state of emergency, we hope to raise the level of awareness of how important it is to practice social distancing to help flatten the curve and protect our most vulnerable members,” said Chief Daniel Miskokomon in a statement. “The high prevalence of underlying health conditions makes our community particularly vulnerable and we would like to remind our members that we all have a responsibility to keep each other safe.”

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19 on Walpole Island, programs are closed to the public. However, additional resources to the Home and Community Care and the Food Bank will ensure that community needs are being met.

“We have taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of our staff to make sure we can continue operating our essential programs,” said James Jenkins, director of operations for Walpole Island First Nation.

Residents are asked to stay home and practice social distancing in order to protect community elders and those with health conditions.

People returning to the First Nation from a March break trip are required to self-isolate for at least 14 days. Residents who believe they may have COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to call TeleHeath Ontario 1-866-797-0000 or use an online assessment tool.

The local state of emergency follows similar declarations made by Chatham-Kent and the province earlier this month.