A military hospital is needed in a remote Ontario Indigenous community now that the COVID-19 pandemic has reached the area, the chief of the First Nation said Monday.

Harvey Yesno said word that a resident of the Eabametoong First Nation has tested positive for the virus has struck fear into the community 300 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, since fear of further spread is compounded by knowledge that the local health-care and social system is not able to cope with the strain of a serious outbreak.

Yesno said that although Eabametoong has been preparing for COVID-19 for weeks, including restricting entry into the fly-in community and declaring a local state of emergency, military intervention is necessary now that the pandemic has struck.

“EFN requires a field hospital with medical supports to provide in-community isolation and treatment, since there is no adequate infrastructure or housing options for membership to self-isolate,” Yesno said in a statement.

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“… EFN Chief and Council are not willing to wait around as limited resources are expended and under-resourced nurses at the local clinic are suddenly faced with life and death triage decisions.”

Yesno said the field hospital should have the capacity to isolate and treat between 50 and 100 patients.

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