TORONTO – Nunavut made a two-week stoppage across the territory on Monday after jumping on COVID-19 cases as health officials worried the infection could spread rapidly to other remote communities vulnerable to an outbreak and quickly deplete resources.
Eight more cases were reported on Monday, reaching the 26th of the territory. After managing to prevent a single case since the first infection was identified in Canada in January, Nunavut reported the first COVID-19 patient on 6 November. Ten cases were identified. on Sunday, more than double the number of infections in the territory within 48 hours. Efforts to explore contacts indicate that it was possible for other communities to be exposed to the virus as well.
“Our saving grace is that we have had time to prepare. More is known about the virus now, “Prime Minister Joe Savikataaq told CTV’s Power Play, adding that people were accustomed to security and distance protocols over the coronavirus.
“The problem we have is that we have so many people in Nunavut overcrowded in our 25 communities and that’s the problem that you can isolate yourself and spread the virus.”
The prime minister said health workers and health resources in the territory have been able to handle cases in the three communities so far.
“If we get into more communities, we may have to ask for help in terms of resources and finances, but right now we have ours,” Savikataaq said.
The assessment by the Chief Public Health Officer has confirmed that Nunavut can probably manage three or four communities, but more things are likely to require additional resources from the federal government.
There are confirmed cases in Sanikiluaq, Rankin Inlet and Arviat. There has been no indication of community transmission in Sanikiluaq, but Rankin Inlet has become the only case in four. Savikataaq said the cases reached the village of Arviat.
The territory said on Sunday that the community’s transmission is believed to have more than 2,600 inhabitants in Arviat, as there is no clear link to show how they were infected among the patients.
So far, the infected are showing symptoms, but they are all doing “well” and are isolated at home, he told Power Play.
“All the cases have a common designation that they came from Winnipeg, as far as we know.”
Passengers entering the territory must complete a 14-day isolation period at one of the isolation centers in Winnipeg, Nunavut. The prime minister said all the infected had been subjected to compulsory isolation, so health officials are investigating how the cases could have entered the territory.
“They will look into what is broken. He was not able to get into the virus, even with people who did 14 days of isolation, ”Savikataaq said.
The territory ordered all non-essential services, businesses and organizations to close or change the working model from home from Wednesday onwards. Grocery stores, fuel service stations, the Canada Post and financial institutions were the only exceptions, Michael Patterson, Ph.D., chief health officer, said at a news conference Monday.
“We are taking these steps for at least the next two weeks to prevent the further deployment of COVID-19. As of Wednesday and across the territory, all gatherings are limited to five people.”
Outdoor gatherings of more than five people will not be allowed, and indoor gatherings will be limited to five people in addition to family members, according to a press release.
Travel within Nunavut is not restricted, but government officials recommend against it. For those entering the territory, a further 14-day period of isolation was required.
“Think of it as an option for a reset circuit,” Savikataaq said at an earlier press conference.
“So there’s no misunderstanding – don’t visit. Don’t socialize outside of your home. And I can’t stress that enough – stay home.”
Patterson said the closure was necessary to control community transmission.
“Through our research, we are concerned that COVID-19 may be extended to additional communities. That is why we are conducting a nationwide closure with similar reductions to what we saw in March and April,” he said. before people identified the infection as they left the community Health officials have been in contact with potential contacts.
All schools will be closed and will go to distance learning, and childcare centers will be closed to all essential staff. Visits to long-term care centers are pending for at least two weeks unless the public health physician is admitted to the call, Patterson said.
All health centers will also be closed except for emergency services. Bars will be closed and restaurants will only offer takeaway services.
All leisure facilities will be closed and all sporting activities and events will be suspended. Personal services, such as hairstyles and masseuses, should also be shut down.
Patterson said the government will re-evaluate the effectiveness of the shutdown on Dec. 2 to determine whether the new cuts should be maintained for longer.
The territory is also now recommending masks in all public spaces and when physical distance cannot be maintained. Masks remain mandatory in the Kivalliq region and Sanikiluaq.
Savikataaq said it is “more important than ever” to help residents limit their work to COVID-19 territorial communities.
“It is necessary to achieve the health and safety of all Nunavummiut,” he said.