COVID-19 Update

August 7, 2020

I am writing to provide an update on the positive case of COVID-19 with a health care provider (HCP) at the Northern Clinic in Sioux Lookout. This person is doing well and self-isolating at home. As previously mentioned because of meticulous use of personal protective equipment and workplace protocols, all exposures have been determined to be low risk. This situation did not require formal contact tracing as required by Ontario Health Guidelines.  Nonetheless, because of the central importance of the Northern Clinic to many of our communities and the generous application of the precautionary principle,  the Approaches to Community Wellbeing Preventing Infectious Diseases (ACW-PID) team assessed the situation and determined that all who had low risk contact with the HCP should be offered testing. In collaboration with the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) we have identified 18 individuals.  Most come from the communities and are being contacted by the ACW-PID. Those who live in Sioux Lookout are being contacted by the NWHU. To date, all test results have been negative.

In addition, as a workplace safety and health measure, all clinic staff are being offered testing.  To date, all test results have been negative.

I would also like to speak to you on the importance of wearing a mask/face covering. Please view the “Messages Around Wearing a Mask is Changing” please follow the links provided here 
and  Previously, masks were not seen as important as they are now. Masks are helpful in numerous situations when you cannot physically distance yourself whether it be at the store, appointments etc. It is important to be prepared to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.  The messages are changing because the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is making masks mandatory on August 17, 2020 in all enclosed public spaces. NWHU has posted more information about this requirement to its website at Please view a demonstration of how to put on and take off masks here This item is of particular relevance as community members begin to do more travel from communities. It will be important that members are prepared for the requirement to wear face coverings in certain settings and have the required equipment and training.

For more information on COVID-19 visit

August 3. 2020

On August 3, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) was notified that a symptomatic health care professional working out of the Northern Clinic in Sioux Lookout tested positive for Covid-19. This person was in Sioux Lookout for a period of two weeks for work and has since returned to their residence outside of the region. As with all health care professionals entering the region, this individual was required to self-monitored for two weeks prior to arrival.

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is managing the case and has assessed the situation as being low risk. The individual had no contacts outside of work and wore appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during all encounters with patients and staff while at the Northern Clinic. The NWHU has therefore determined that there were no high-risk exposures and, therefore, no contacts that require to be traced.

However, given the heightened concern in communities and the on-going vulnerability of our population, SLFNHA is acting out of an abundance of caution and has put a plan in place that is aggressive and thorough. This includes the following:

  1.  Any patients who were at the clinic from the period between July 20 – July 31 who are experiencing any symptoms should present themselves for assessment as soon as possible.
  2. Commencing tomorrow, Aug 4th, 2020, The Preventing Infectious Team from SLFNHA will contact all patients who were seen by this individual to recommend testing and self- monitoring.
  3.  A deep clean of the clinic will take place on Tuesday morning, August 4th, 2020.
  4.  Virtual appointments will continue to be done wherever possible.
  5. All staff working at the clinic within the last two weeks will be offered testing and will be required to self-monitor. If they have symptoms they will be required to stay home and get assessed as soon as possible.
  6. Protocols to protect patients are being reviewed and reinforced with all clinic staff More information will follow as the situation develops.

For more information on COVID-19 visit


July 25, 2020

I am writing to inform you that we have been notified by the Northwestern Health Unit that a resident of Sioux Lookout has tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing is being carried out and no contacts in SLFNHA communities have been identified. The case is being managed by the Northwestern Health Unit.

We are recommending that the normal public health measures are continued. These include:

• Social Distancing
• Hand Washing
• Wearing masks when social distancing is not possible
• Adherence to travel restrictions required by community leadership

We are committed to providing communities with fast, reliable and accurate information. For the most up to date information, please visit our website where we post video, audio and written updates. We also update our dashboard page by 2:00 pm, Monday-Friday with case numbers (updates will also be occurring on the weekend when the need arises).


July 16, 2020

Thoughts from CRRT


It is almost 2 weeks since I have taken over from Dr Bocking as the lead of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) COVID Regional Response Team (CRRT). I wanted to share with you some thoughts about how we might approach the challenges faced by those who live in the communities that we serve.

In one way or another, we are all affected by this new and unwelcome threat to our health and well-being. Throughout the region, organizations and communities have been working hard to keep the communities safe. We have seen remarkable strength and dedication. However, we have a long way to go and we must keep working together to overcome this threat. I would like to outline three strategies that may help address some of the challenges we face.


It has been 19 weeks since we have been living in the shadow of a global pandemic. We have watched with mounting concern as it has swept across the world causing disease, death and disruption. This is a new virus, but it has relatives with which we are all familiar, such as the common cold. We are learning more about the virus but there is much more to learn. Big questions still remain unanswered.

The virus has made its way into our region. In the past few weeks we have had our first incidence of transmission in one of our communities and a cluster of cases in Meno Ya Win Health Centre. Thankfully, to date, it has not caused any illness and spread seems to have been minimal. It is clear that we are living in a world where the presence of COVID is the new normal as it is not likely to go away in the near term. We will have to live with it as we do with many other viruses, but we can minimize the harm that it can do to us and our loved ones.

We can do this by focusing on what we can do and what we must do to keep our families and communities safe while we get back to doing the things that make our communities work. The recommended public health measures that you have heard repeated so often are as useful as they have ever been. We must remain vigilant. In addition, we know that face covering can help in situations where physical distancing is not possible or is difficult.

This is a new journey, we will have to continue to walk it together safely. Public health advice will guide us and public health measures will help us. It is through our collective resilience that we will continue to change and continue to adapt as we go forward, as circumstances change and as we learn more. The CRRT will continue to work to make sure that the well-being of the communities is at the center of our thinking, advice and efforts.


The CRRT has been engaging with communities to support them in their preparedness and to develop their own Incident Management Systems (IMS). Although the CRRT is providing tools, resources and training in emergency management, the systems at the community level are based on the unique structures of each community and are designed by the community. In many cases, communities are using their existing structures and ways of making decisions. These structures are based on traditions of supporting each other and in responding to various crises over the years. These emergency structures have worked extremely well in several communities and have been essential in achieving satisfactory outcomes.

Despite the ongoing efforts, the level of preparation in communities is not uniform. We will continue to support communities as they draw on their strengths to increase their emergency preparedness. We have recently formed a task group to help communities improve emergency preparedness and develop a coordinated incident management structure that has common elements and the capacity to deal with emergencies in a way that respects the unique needs and wishes of each community.

Each one of us can be prepared. Learn about the virus and its symptoms. If you have any symptoms or concerns that you have been exposed, self-isolate and call the nursing station so that you can be assessed. Your local COVID response team, increasingly, is a resource you can call on for help and information. For those who use the internet, the SLFNHA website is a reliable source of information with tools, resources and updates.


While we have been focused on preventing the spread of COVID, other threats to our health have not been silent. Our communities carry an unfair burden of illness from many causes. There were significant challenges in getting adequate care for community members prior to the pandemic. Now, the number of community members who have unmet urgent health needs continues to grow.

Travel restrictions have meant that access to care has, in too many cases, been reduced or reserved for emergencies. Yet the needs for care have not changed. In fact, there are real concerns that the current stress caused by the pandemic has not been good for our collective mental health and has forced us to have less care for other equally important conditions.

Throughout this pandemic, SLFNHA has been working with its partners and with each community to safely bring essential services into the communities while also respecting the direction and individual strategies of each community. As we enter into a new normal and increase access to services we are developing safe pathways to and from care. This will allow community members meet their individual needs while continuing to ensure that the firewalls that protect communities are maintained.

This is not going to be an easy task as the leadership of communities balance the risk of COVID against the risk of not getting needed care. This will be a dynamic process that will change as the risk of COVID in our health care hubs waxes and wanes. The CRRT will be working with the many elements that make up the pathway. One of the more challenging pieces will be to have adequate capacity for isolation in and outside the communities. This is currently being addressed as a high priority.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that exists throughout the region. Our greatest asset during these times is the strength, wisdom and traditions that come from communities as they work to protect the health and safety of their people. The CRRT continues to work alongside communities as we learn from the past and walk together through this new journey.

Warmest wishes,

Dr. John Guilfoyle, MB BCh BAO FCFP
Public Health Physician


July 6, 2020

COVID-19 Situation Report from our Public Health Physician, Dr. John Guilfoyle


I am writing to provide you with an update on the COVID-19 situation in our region. Since my last update there have been no new cases of COVID-19 within our catchment area.

The individual from Sachigo First Nation is still self-isolating within Sioux Lookout. The contract worker who was in Pikangikum First Nation is also self-isolating elsewhere. Close contacts have been identified and offered testing. The investigation is ongoing.  However, all results to date are negative

Don’t be scared – Be prepared

As demonstrated by the recent cases, COVID-19 usually causes minor or no illness, particularly if you are healthy.  But as we know it can cause serious illness, particularly if you have underlying health problems.   We don’t need to be scared, but we need to be prepared. Members of the communities we serve have done a wonderful job of physical distancing, handwashing and protecting others when you are coughing and sneezing. These measures are the most important things that we can do in preventing the spread of the virus and they help us to contribute to the well-being of our communities.

Being prepared is not just an individual responsibility, it’s also a community responsibility. The communities are developing a capacity to protect against health threats.  Central to this is the incident management system.(IMS)The community’s leaders have been working on IMS  that involves the local COVID-19 response team, your health director and of course, your chief and council.  The CRRT wants to have every community to have an IMS that is able and prepared to work with all stakeholders to ensure that communities are as prepared as possible.  

For more information, visit

July 2, 2020


July 1, 2020



June 29, 2020


June 24, 2020

VIDEO - COVID-19 Update - Dr. John Guilfoyle, Public Health Physician


June 23, 2020

Positive cases of COVID-19 within Sioux Lookout

Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) has been notified of several COVID-19 cases among the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) staff.  Testing was done as part of surveillance in light of the recent uptick in positive cases in our communities.  From 147 swabs, six are positive.  This is a relatively small number, but this cluster is concerning that there is more viral activity that we might have appreciated. 

This has obvious implications for individuals and communities as Sioux Lookout is the health hub for most communities within the SLFNHA catchment. SLFNHA is working directly with SLMHC and the NWHU and has responded immediately to put all proper measures in place to protect patients, health care givers and the public  

The immediate actions that are in place to respond to this increased COVID-19 activity include:


The following increased public health measures are in place at the hostel:

1.      All staff to wear masks

2.      Audit of infection control measures

3.      Hand sanitizer at all entrances

4.      Strict no visitors

5.      Screening on entry

As part of the surveillance strategy, all hostel staff are offered testing. 

Northern Clinic

Increased public health measures are in place at the Northern Clinic and a surveillance strategy is activated including testing of northern clinic staff.

Patients returning home after medical travel

Measures are in place to prevent the virus from entering the community.  Public health measures for patients of SLMHC and clients of the JMK hostel include:

1.      All patients will be offered a test before returning home

2.      They do not have to wait for results in Sioux Lookout – they can return home and ensure they wear masks on the plane

3.      On arrival in community they will be screened at the airport and transported to where they will quarantine/self-isolate for 14 days in community. If they develop symptoms after returning home, they should be re-swabbed immediately.  

For more information and future updates visit


June 22, 2020

Update from Dr. John Guilfoyle, SLFNHA Public Health Physician



June 16, 2020

SLFNHA responds to four new positive COVID-19 cases within two First Nation communities

On June 15, 2020, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) was notified of four new cases within two communities.  This is addition to the case that was identified on June 12, 2020. 

SLFNHA, who recently took responsibility for COVID-19 case management and contact tracing responded immediately to both communities. SLFNHA is working to assist both communities with case and contact tracing as well provide additional support regarding additional resources.

SLFNHA has been supporting both communities with their pandemic planning and in providing training and supports for contact tracing.  This allows the community to be better prepared to mobilise appropriately and to start the contact tracing process.  

This process is further helped by the rapid testing technology that is available at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) which allows for quick turnaround time.

Consistent with good public health practices, and respecting confidentiality and privacy, we do not identify the community or community members in respect to confirmed cases.


On June 12, 2020, a positive case was identified in the first community.  An additional two cases from this community were confirmed on June 15, 2020.  These positive cases are significant as the transmission occurred in the community.  

SLFNHA met with all relevant parties, including Chief and Council, community physicians, the community nursing station, Indigenous Services Canada, and the Preventing Infectious Disease (PID) team.

As part of their pandemic planning, the community had a Contact Tracing Team in place.  This enabled SLFNHA and the community to respond immediately and begin contact tracing within hours of the first case being identified.  A SLFNHA team was immediately deployed to the community and is working along side the leadership and the community Contact Tracing Team. 

The following measures are in place:

  • The local pandemic plan was activated with the central involvement of the local COVID response team
    • Individuals who have tested positive are in isolation
  • Following best practices, the community nursing station was wiped down and sterilized. All staff were informed of the positive case of COVID-19 and the nursing station was closed to the public except for emergencies.
  • The case and contact tracing team worked quickly to identify and contact those with known exposure to the individual with the positive case of COVID-19.
    • Further testing broadened to include recent gathering
  • The community’s assessment centre opened to help with contact tracing and testing
  • Arrangements were made to charter tests to SLMHC medical laboratory for expedited testing.
  • the community’s contact tracing and COVID-19 response team informed the community of the situation on the local radio station.
  • Key message was communicated for community members to come for testing if you have any symptoms, any increased risk of exposure or any anxieties regarding contact.
  • A delivery of 500 swabs and PPE were delivered to the community
  • Testing done on close contacts
  • Regular meetings are taking place with the local COVID team to review progress and to update the leadership.


On June 15, 2020, SLFNHA was notified that there are two positive COVID-19 cases within a different community SLFNHA serves. SLFNHA’s case management and contact tracing has responded. SLFNHA is working with the community leaders to ensure the safety of community members. No other details are available at this time.


SLFNHA continues to remind community members to practice social distancing and the following best practices:

  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Sanitize multitouch surfaces
  • Stay home
  • Wear a mask if you cannot maintain two metres from others in public.

For future updates, visit



Media Contact

Michael Dube, Communications Officer |