COVID-19: First case of virus appears in Kahnawake
MONTREAL -- A doctor at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre in Kahnawake has tested positive for COVID-19.
The doctor had recently returned from a trip abroad but likely hasn't spread the virus to patients since then, according to Lisa Westaway, executive director of the Kateri Memorial Hospital, who gave an update Wednesday evening in a video posted to Facebook.
Earlier this month, the doctor travelled to the United States, spending time in New York City from March 7 to 9. She returned home and worked at the hospital on March 11. Then, her husband started showing symptoms of the virus and began self-isolating. The doctor cancelled her clinic appearance and, on March 17, she also developed symptoms.
Officials tested her. It came back positive.
But because she had taken precautions as soon as her husband began showing symptoms, the worst has been avoided, Westaway explained, noting that the virus is only contagious 24 to 48 hours before symptoms appear. Since she became symptomatic on the 17 and had last worked at the hospital on the 11, there is no chance she contaminated patients, Westaway insisted.
"Therefore, there is absolutely no need for contact tracing by public health," she said. "There is absolutely no risk to our population nor to our patients nor to our nurses and other physicians and/or residents."
The doctor's case shows the importance of self-isolation, Westaway said. "Limit your contacts outside of your household as much as possible," she urged, speaking to the community. "Then, even when we do have positive cases -- and we will have positive cases -- we'll be able to have control over the amount of people that we've had contact with, and that is the goal."
The virus will spread. It was not a question of "if" it would come to Kahnawake, she insisted, but of "when."
"This is real. This is not a joke. The way we're preparing is to limit the contact as much as possible," she said.
"The virus will come to Kahnawake. We don't want to cause panic; we don't want to cause alarm; we just want to be prepared."