Lynn Lake, Man., a town of less than 500 people, has 121 known active COVID-19 cases

A small town in northwestern Manitoba is facing a COVID-19 outbreak that has impacted about a quarter of its population.

In the last census, the Town of Lynn Lake, located nearly 815 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, reported a population of 494. As of Wednesday, there are 121 known active cases of COVID-19 in the community, according to a daily COVID-19 bulletin issued by the town.

To date, there have been 127 total confirmed cases in Lynn Lake and one resident has died. There are 35 residents in isolation and 100 close contacts have been identified, the bulletin said.

“It’s a little unsettling,” said former mayor and Lynn Lake resident Audie Dulewich. “We’ve gotten away really well up until this point. We’ve gone through this entire time, since last March, without a case in town.

“They always kind of said that if it got to town, it probably would spread like wildfire — and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Lynn Lake will be getting help from the Manitoba government. A group called Can Task Force 4 will arrive Thursday to help with patrolling, wellness checks and food deliveries, the town’s COVID-19 bulletin said.

In the meantime, though, residents are asked to do what they can in preventing further spread of the illness, including staying home when sick, practising proper hand hygiene, wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing.

Residents have generally followed those guidelines throughout the pandemic, and there are few people out and about, Dulewich said. But given the current outbreak, he said it’s possible people got complacent.

Dulewich is unsure how COVID-19 got into the community and how it spread.

The northern health region had most of the new cases announced in Manitoba Wednesday. Of the 158 total new cases, 70 were linked to northern Manitoba.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s acting deputy chief public health officer, told reporters Wednesday that Lynn Lake and Thompson, Man., were hit especially hard.