After over two months without an active COVID-19 case, Kahnawake reports almost 20 after an outbreak

Kahnawake is dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 after having zero cases since May. There are no hospitalizations, but the community's task force is reminding its members that the virus is real and to be cautious and get vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A COVID-19 outbreak in the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake on Montreal's South Shore last week was a hard reminder for the community's public health and public safety bodies that the virus remains active and health measures need to remain in place.

Authorities reported that a person tested positive for the novel coronavirus at a local park July 9.

The community currently has 18 active cases, and over 100 contacts have been identified.

"It all stems from the same outbreak, all the connections and contacts," said Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre executive director Lisa Westaway. "It's more of a variety of variables, all interconnected that caused such an outbreak."

The community had zero active cases since the beginning of May, and reporting the recent spike in cases was an unpleasant reminder that the pandemic is not over.

"It's the middle of the summer and people have just gone on with their lives and have fun, and this was a harsh reality that, yeah, COVID still exists," said Westaway.

There are no hospitalizations related to the disease in Kahnawake.

Westaway said the perception that the pandemic is over, that people are safe, and that most people are vaccinated may have caused community members to drop their guard sparking the outbreak.

"If you combine all these factors together it creates the potential risk that we're seeing right now," said Westaway. "You look at TV, you look in the States and it's as if we no longer have COVID around us, and whether you're vaccinated or not, you can still get COVID. Of course, the risk is a lot lower when you are versus when you're not."

In Kahnawake, about 66 per cent of those over 18 are fully vaccinated. Westaway said that number is increasing daily and vaccinations will return to the community at the end of the month.  

Kahnawake's public health and public security bodies are advising community members to continue to wear masks and maintain distancing measures.

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