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Omicron wave of COVID-19 could be flattening on First Nations, says top doctor

OTTAWA — The top doctor for Indigenous Services Canada says he's cautiously optimistic the Omicron-driven wave of the pandemic may be flattening across First Nations.
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Dr. Tom Wong, Chief Medical Officer of Public Health answers a question during a press conference in Ottawa on June 23, 2021. Wong said Thursday, he's cautiously optimistic the Omicron-driven wave of the pandemic may be flattening across First Nations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The top doctor for Indigenous Services Canada says he's cautiously optimistic the Omicron-driven wave of the pandemic may be flattening across First Nations. 

Dr. Tom Wong, the department's chief public health officer, says for this to happen nationally, communities need to maintain their health measures. 

As of last week the department reported nearly 85 per cent of people 12 and older living on First Nations have received both their doses of vaccine to protect against COVID-19. 

Wong says there are communities in every region with lower-than-anticipated vaccine uptake, and so far only 20 per cent of adults on reserve have been immunized with a third booster dose. 

The department says there are currently roughly 5,000 active cases on First Nations. 

Wong says now is not the time for leaders to relax health rules brought in to blunt the spread of COVID-19 because the Omicron variant is highly contagious.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel — but not now," he said during a briefing Thursday. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press