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Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

An Alberta First Nation is investigating more than 250 possible cases of COVID-19 and warning that a dramatic increase in potential cases is putting stress on local health resources.

Siksika Nation said it has nine active cases in the community, located a 90-minute drive east of Calgary, and is investigating 258 more. The number of potential cases under investigation has increased from 58 in less than a week.

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How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada?

A remote First Nation prepares for its most daunting challenge: limiting the spread of coronavirus

“These past few days have been extremely challenging on our nation and taxing on the resources we need in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community,” Chief Ouray Crowfoot said in a video message posted to Facebook.

“The risk is high of community transmission in Siksika Nation.”

The Chief said Siksika Health Services has identified five unrelated clusters of COVID-19 infections and a total of 21 positive cases linked to the community. Health officials are conducting contact tracing and urging anyone who feels sick to isolate at home.

Siksika Nation has about 7,500 members, including more than 4,000 people living in the community.

Mr. Crowfoot, who could not be reached to answer additional questions, used his video message to urge residents to follow strict public-health guidelines, including avoiding all non-essential travel outside the community and limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to no more than 10 people who are not part of the same household. He also urged people to wear masks.

“If we continue to stay vigilant and to do our best to avoid travel and avoid gatherings, we have a chance to slow down the spread on our nation and also give our health team a chance to do their job,” he said.

He noted that the community is holding its Sun Dance, an important cultural ceremony, and health officials were on hand to screen all participants.

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Siksika Health Services has conducted more than 2,000 tests, though Mr. Crowfoot said a shortage of throat swabs was hampering testing efforts and forcing health officials to limit testing to people with symptoms. The Chief said more supplies were expected by early next week.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, Deena Hinshaw, said her office was keeping in touch with health officials in Siksika and with the federal First Nations and Inuit Health Branch and would offer any help requested, but so far that hasn’t happened.

“I am confident that between the local community health officials, in partnership with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, that they are managing these cases and and contacts, and I don’t believe there is concern with risk to those outside that community,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

Siksika Nation declared a local state of emergency in March. It remains in place. The community recorded its first positive case in June.

As of Tuesday, there were 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on First Nations reserves across Canada and six deaths. Of those, there were 83 cases in Alberta, 82 in Saskatchewan, 42 in British Columbia, 58 in Ontario and 35 in Quebec.

Figures released in late June by Indigenous Services Canada show infection rates on reserves flattening out, suggesting that many First Nations had been successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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The federal government announced in May that it was putting $285-million to support public-health efforts in Indigenous communities as they respond to the pandemic.

Alberta added 94 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, which includes two days of testing, and another death. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Alberta to 8,202 and the number of fatalities to 155.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

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