First covid-19 case confirmed in Kahnawake

Par Valérie Lessard
First covid-19 case confirmed in Kahnawake
Lisa Westaway, directrice exécutive de l'hôpital Kateri Memorial à Kahnawake. (Photo : Capture d'écran)

The Kahnawake covid-19 task force in Kahnawake confirmed on March 18 that a doctor from Kateri Memorial Hospital in Kahnawake has tested positive for covid-19. There would be no risk of contagion at the hospital linked to this case, the committee assures.   

The doctor in question does not live on the reserve, but works at the aboriginal Kateri Hospital. She travelled to New York City from March 7-9. She then travelled to the Kateri Hospital on March 11, reported the Kahnawake Covid-19 Task Force. ‘’Her husband actually began to develop symptoms and became self-isolated on March 15, and her as well, because her husband exhibited symptoms, explained Kateri Hospital executive director Lisa Westaway. She canceled her clinic at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre.’’ The doctor developed Covid-19 symptoms on March 17. She was tested the same day and received her result on March 18.

In a letter published on the evening of March 18, the director of professional services at Kateri Memorial Hospital in the aboriginal community, Suzanne Jones, emphasized that the infected health professional had taken all the appropriate measures in the presence of a co-habitant having the same symptoms. The fact that the doctor was self-isolated two days before the appearance of her symptoms, which are light ones, ‘’resulted in NO RISK to employees nor community members.’’

‘’After speaking with Public Health, we have the confirmation that the virus is only contagious 24 to 48 hours before exhibited symptoms.There is absolutely no need  for contact tracing. There is no risk to our population, nor to our patients, our nurses, or our physicians,’’ Westaway explained.

The Task Force wanted to make this information public to silence rumours and remind people of the importance of following isolation and social distance instructions  .

‘’We don’t want to cause panic in Kahnawake. We just want to be prepared. Take this case, for example.The goal is to limit as much as possible and to slow down that transmission by limiting your contacts with other people,’’,said the hospital’s executive director.

Incubation vs contagion

The period of contagion of the virus is from 24 to 48 hours before the appearance of the symptoms until their disappearance and with the confirmation of a negative test.

The incubation period of the virus is, according to the Montreal public health department, an average of from five to six days. ‘’However, it could be spread up to 12.5 days. Out of prudence, we suggest for the purposes of research, exposition and surveillance of contacts, to consider a period of 14 days,’’ one can read on the Public Health internet site.

She also worked at the Anna Laberge Hospital

The public health authorities confirmed on Friday, March 20 that the doctor in question had also worked at the Anna Laberge Hospital in Chateauguay after her return from her trip. The Public Health Office affirms that there is no risk for the health of other patients, employees and colleagues who had been in contact with her since she worked only one day there and that was four days before the appearance of her symptoms. “The investigation demonstrates that the professional did not work or attend the care establishment during her contagious period. There is therefore no measure to take for the personnel,” assures Monteregie public health director Dr. Julie Loslier.

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