Southern Alberta Hutterite colony under quarantine following COVID-19 outbreak
CALGARY -- **NOTE: The Willow Creek Hutterite Colony says it is not under quarantine and has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. The joint statement that indicated the colony was under quarantine has been removed and replaced with a version that does not specifically mention the colony**
In an effort to reduce the potential spread of the novel coronavirus, the Willow Creek Hutterite Colony has gone into quarantine.
The move was announced in a joint statement released Wednesday by the Town of Claresholm, the Municipal District of Willow Creek and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Roger Reid.
"(Alberta Health Services) is aware of the situation, and has been taking steps to ensure that those within the Hutterite Colonies and the Town of Claresholm are protected," said Reid in the statement. "I will continue to work with the Minister of Health and the Town of Claresholm to ensure we have adequate access to testing and PPE in our area.
"We must work together to ensure All members of our community are kept safe and positioned for a quick recovery. Discrimination to anyone is unacceptable, and will not be tolerated."
According to the municipal and provincial representatives, there have been reported incidents of discrimination against colony members by businesses and residents of Claresholm.
"I would like to offer the local colonies our best wishes for a speedy and safe conclusion to the COVID threat they are facing at this time," said Mayor Doug MacPherson. "And for the residents of Claresholm I would like to put your concerns to rest. AHS has stepped in to help the affected colonies to address their outbreak through testing and quarantine. There are measures and safeguards put into place to protect Claresholm residents.
"These are unprecedented times, but we must all remember that everyone is doing their best, so please stay calm and take care to protect yourself and others."
As of Thursday morning, CTV News has not confirmed the number of cases tied to the colony.
But on Tuesday, Alberta’s chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Alberta Health was looking into any links between outbreaks on Hutterite colonies across the prairies.
"We have been working with the Safety Council and with Saskatchewan, just like any other part of our community, the Hutterite community is not spared from exposure or transmission. And so some of our new cases have been linked to Saskatchewan," she said.
Hinshaw also said no one – or group – is immune to the virus.
"I'll repeat my earlier assertion that it is critical that we not single out any one particular segment of society but rather understand that we all need to be working together to follow the public health guidance to stop transmission."