Kahnawake COVID-19 social distancing

Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre in Kahnawake, Quebec

First case of COVID-19 in Kahnawake demonstrates importance of social distancing

A physician in Kahnawake had minimized the risk to herself and others by social distancing after showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The first case of COVID-19 has been identified in Kahnawake, the First Nations reserve outside of Montreal. The case is of extra importance, as the infection occurred in a physician who works at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre in Kahnawake. In a live-stream update to the community, Lisa Westaway, Executive Director at the hospital, explained how the situation benefited from the practice of self-isolation.

“This concerns a physician who was in New York City from March 7th to 9th,” Westaway explained. “She worked at the Centre on the 11th. Her husband then developed symptoms and self-isolated on the 15th. Because her husband developed symptoms, she also self-isolated, and her symptoms started on the 17th. She received a positive test result today (March 18th). After speaking with Public Health, we have confirmation that the virus is only contagious within 24-48 hours before exhibited symptoms. Therefore, because she had last worked in the community on the 11th, and had [self-isolated starting] on the 15th, there is absolutely no need for contact tracing by Public Health or by KMHC in any way. There is no risk to our population, nor to our patients, nurses and other physicians and/or residents.”

Westaway went on to stress the importance of self-isolation. “We reiterate how important it is that when you travel here from outside of Quebec, that you self-isolate for the 14 days,” she said. “We also want to use this opportunity to bring a message to the community that this is real.” 

Of course, had the dates been different and there had not been self-isolation, there is a likely chance the situation could have been worse.

“If we are following the measures that we are asking you to follow — meaning limit your contacts outside of your household as much as possible — then even when we do have positive cases, and we will have positive cases, we will be able to have control over the amount of people we’ve had contact with,” Westaway said. “And that is the goal: to limit the transmission as much as possible to slow it down.”

Lloyd Philips, Comissioner of Public Safety, addressed concerns about COVID-19 reaching the community.

“It’s not a matter of if the virus reaches the community — it’s a matter of when,” Philips said. “It’s a matter of minimizing the impact. If there are a certain amount of people who will get the virus, you want to spread it out over the longest possible period of time so that if they require any type of medical assistance, the medical assistance is available to them.”

This example perfectly demonstrates the importance of social distancing, self-isolating and abiding by the recommendations of the medical community to overcome COVID-19 in Montreal, across Canada and throughout world.

For more information about COVID-19 in Kahnawake, please visit the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory website.

Furthermore, please visit the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre for details or for additional concerns in Kahnawake regarding COVID-19.

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