Sunday, March 7, 2021

Walpole Island staff being tested for COVID-19, offices being deep cleaned

Walpole Island First Nation Chief and Council are implementing testing for all staff and a deep cleaning of offices, following a positive COVID-19 test among staff.

Walpole Island officials say on Sunday, November 15, Walpole Island Chief and Council made the decision to close all of the band programs and department for two weeks in response to a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the administrative staff.

The decision was also made to have all staff tested and carry out a deep cleaning of all offices, Walpole Island officials added.

It should be noted that these actions are over and above the recommendations, and are being taken out of an abundance of caution and to be proactive in ensuring the safety of the staff and community, Walpole Island officials say.

Chief and Council followed these decisions with an Emergency Council Meeting to discuss updates to the COVID-19 response plan and to rollout plans for staff testing and office cleaning.

Over the coming weeks, with direction and advice from Walpole Island’s Community Health Team, Council will be updating the COVID-19 response plan for the community and will identify further measures and actions to ensure they are well prepared for the second wave of COVID, Walpole Island officials added.

Council will be working closely with Community Health Supervisor, Kyla Isaac, and the Health Centre Team to ensure they have a comprehensive COVID-19 Pandemic Action Plan in place that considers all sectors including staffing and operations, community members, education, and businesses, Walpole Island officials say.

The Chief and Council all agreed that the best course of action was to act now and to ensure that the community as a whole was the main priority.

“As many of you know, we had a staff member test positive and, as a result of that we have met to discuss some remedial measures and actions to address the concerns of staff and to do a thorough cleaning of the governance building and to provide instructions to the rest of the band operated buildings and facilities,” stated Chief Charles Sampson, in a media release.

“Hopefully, within the next two weeks we’re going to gradually phase back into operation and to continue on with regular service to community members. This should be regarded as an extreme precautionary measure, we’re doing it in the best interests of the band members of the employees, hopefully we will get back to normal and in a very short period of time.”

Chief and Council appreciate the cooperation and understanding from the community and staff in helping to keep our most vulnerable members safe, Walpole Island officials say.

Given the high prevalence of underlying health conditions that make many of the members more vulnerable to COVID-19, we must take extra precautions to protect our community, officials added.

As of Tuesday, there was one active COVID-19 case on Walpole Island.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 18 total COVID-19 cases on the First Nation reserve.

Walpole Island officials said if residents are experiencing symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and call the Walpole Island Health Centre at 519-627-0765 or after hours, call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.

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