Clyde River council voices COVID-19 concerns
Mayor asks for ban on intercommunity travel and seeks bulk supplies of hand sanitizers and wipes
Clyde River’s hamlet council has made an urgent plea to the Government of Nunavut to help the community prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a March 25 letter, addressed to Chief Medical Officer of Health Michael Patterson, councillors requested urgent assistance with four matters: increased travel restrictions, community-wide testing, resupplies of sanitizing products, and funding to put programs in place to respond to the pandemic.
Jerry Natanine, the mayor of Clyde River, told Nunatsiaq News they want to see an all-out ban on travel into the community, including people from other Nunavut communities.
“We started discussing this before the GN closed the airport in Iqaluit from Ottawa, and when they did that it encouraged us,” Natanine said.
“We were hoping the GN would close all of the inter-community travel as well, but they didn’t.”
Natanine said very few people have been travelling into the community since the early days of the pandemic, but, regardless, they’d like to see a rule in place to prevent it from happening.
“We’re trying to isolate ourselves and people are coming in and that just doesn’t seem right,” he said.
Clyde River’s council also wants increased access to test kits in the community and community-wide testing for COVID-19.
“It would be great if we could be tested and we’d know beforehand if we’re positive or not,” Natanine said. “That would be something that could be very useful.”
Patterson confirmed at a March 30 news conference that all Nunavut communities currently have the swabs required to collect samples for testing.
The regional hubs will also be receiving shipments of an additional 1,000 swabs in the coming days, he said.
But community-wide testing isn’t practical, said Patterson.
“We can certainly collect swabs in every community. What we can’t do is swab everyone in every community,” he said.
“We have got requests for that, but it’s just not a good use of resources, even if we had enough swabs for that.”
Last week in Clyde River, Natanine said the community ran out of hand sanitizer, though there are some Lysol wipes left in the store.
Both kinds of sanitizing products, the letter states, are needed for customers entering the store and for families to use at home.
The council wants a bulk shipment of hand sanitizer and wipes to restock the community.
Last, Natanine said they’re seeking financial support to put measures in place during the global pandemic. One example of this is a food distribution program to replace the school’s breakfast program.
He said the community also needs more personal protective equipment and funds to convert the hotels into spaces for people to self-isolate if necessary.
There remain no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, as of March 31, but in Clyde River, Natanine said there are still concerns about a possible spread and about how to make sure people keep maintaining a safe social distance.
“We’re hoping to get our request met and for more testing to find out exactly whether we have it or not,” Natanine said. “I think that’s a very big deal.”