When the Canadian Red Cross goes into a community in the midst of an emergency, its representatives usually pass out these teddy bears and blankets to represent self-care and comfort. Its infection prevention and control team will be in Arviat, the federal government and Canadian Red Cross have confirmed. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Red Cross)

COVID-19 cases continue to fall as Red Cross heads to Arviat

Top doctor praises “remarkable job” against virus, urges Nunavut to stay the course

By Jane George

Nunavummiut are doing a “remarkable job” fighting COVID-19, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said Sunday as the number of active cases in Nunavut continued to fall.

The latest numbers show the territory has 112 active cases of COVID-19 and 65 recovered cases.

“I encourage everyone to keep it up and stay vigilant. It remains critical that we keep working hard to slow the spread of this virus,” Patterson said in a Government of Nunavut news release.

He issued a reminder to the public that fluctuations in the number of new cases are normal and to practise all recommended public health measures, limit visiting and avoid non-essential travel.

Eleven new cases have been identified in Arviat, bringing that community’s number of active cases to 90. Whale Cove has two new cases, for a total of 14 active cases. As of Nov. 28, 203 tests had been done in Rankin Inlet — all with negative results.

All people with active COVID-19 cases are in isolation and they are well, with mild to moderate symptoms, the GN release said.

Red Cross heads to Arviat

Meanwhile, “additional specialist support” to assist in Arviat is on the way, the federal government said over the weekend. It includes a team of infection prevention and control specialists from the Canadian Red Cross.

“We have approved a request from the Government of Nunavut for aid in their fight against COVID-19 in the Kivalliq region,” federal Public Security Minister Bill Blair said Saturday in statement on social media.

“The Canadian Red Cross will provide additional specialist support to the people and Government of Nunavut. Working together, we’ll get through this.”

The Red Cross also confirmed in a statement to Nunatsiaq News that it will provide a team to support the response in Arviat, including providing assessments, training and advice on epidemic prevention and control.

But the Red Cross said the details about these efforts, including the timing of this team’s arrival in Arviat, were still being finalized.

Patterson said Friday that the Red Cross team members would follow all exempted worker protocols by wearing masks in public and in workplace settings and isolating while not at work.

Patterson said a liaison officer from the Public Health Agency of Canada has also come to Iqaluit to help with Nunavut’s requests for support from the federal government.

What does IPC mean?

When in Arviat, the Red Cross team will work to assist with infection prevention and control, or IPC, measures.

These aim to protect those who might be vulnerable to acquiring an infection, both in the general community and while receiving health care, the World Health Organization says.

The basic principle guiding IPC is hygiene.

The United States Centers for Disease Control says IPC is a critical part of the health system because it can prevent or stop the spread of infections during healthcare delivery in facilities such as hospitals, outpatient clinics in long-term care facilities.

Recently, Red Cross IPC teams have gone into long-term care facilities in Manitoba and Ontario to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Internationally, the Red Cross has also helped health facilities set up triage levels and even field hospitals to prevent the spread of infections.

Last May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bolstered the capacity of the Red Cross to deal with COVID-19 in Canada, by announcing the humanitarian organization would receive $41 million to deal with “immediate COVID-19 needs.”

What will the Red Cross do in Arviat?

While the GN has not yet spelled out what the Red Cross team will do in Arviat, its activities are likely to be based out of the Arviat Health Centre.

That’s because the CDC’s Strategic Priority Infection Prevention and Control Activities document suggest “the highest priority should be placed on implementing triage at initial healthcare facility encounter.”

When there’s community transmission taking place — as is the case in Arviat — the likelihood of finding new positive cases is highest at the stage of triage, the evaluation carried out when people first come in to see health workers.

The CDC said that establishing triage posts is “challenging in places without access to laboratory services.”

GN to hold COVID-19 update on Monday

Territorial officials have scheduled a news conference for Monday at 11 a.m. in the legislature to provide an update on the COVID-19 developments.

The news conference will also be streamed online.

The news conference will be aired on Bell ExpressVu channel 513, Shaw satellite channel 181 or 489 in the classic line-up package, local cable channel 5 or 602, or listen in on the radio in Iqaluit at 92.5 FM.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Recoveries? on

    What is the official criteria to consider a case as recovered? It can’t be 14 days after testing positive, because 14 days ago (Sunday, Nov 15th) we only had a total of 18 cases, and today we count a total of 65 recoveries. We had 70 cases on Wed 18th, could the criteria be 10 days after diagnosis? Or are they including the delay between testing and informing?

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Having an additional 11 cases in Arviat at this point is disconcerting to say the least. This is 19 days after the first Arviat case was confirmed, and more than 10 days since the large outbreaks and publicity.
    Symptoms generally take 7 to 10 days to manifest from infection so it is apparent that many people were not been following guidelines immediately following the first large outbreak – when you might have expected the most caution.
    I cannot say it any simpler, Stay Home, Stay Safe. Stay 2 meters away from anyone not in your immediate family. Wear a mask anytime you are outside. Wash your hands frequently.

    • Posted by Nunavummiut on

      It’s because they are becoming infected from the people they live with. Yes, you are right. They should stay home. But the new cases are from their family members who tested positive and they are trying to keep disinfecting but if someone tests positive in a household of 8 people and only 3 bedrooms, that’s where the real problems lie. I personally know of a person who’s child tested positive, but her test yielded a positive. She cares for the child, more than likely she will test positive because who else will care for her toddler?

      The overcrowding of homes is where the real dangers are, some have 3 generations living in one household

    • Posted by Nunavummiut on

      I meant to say: I personally know of a person who’s child tested positive, but her test yielded a negative*. She cares for the child, more than likely she will test positive because who else will care for her

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        I certainly understand the issue; how do eight or ten people isolate in a two bedroom house, it’s impossible. There are certainly issues that need to be addressed with regard to housing. This has been the case since the 1950s when everyone was first moved into settlements.
        Now I do think that the GN needed a strategy to handle what to do when there is an infection within a multi-generational household. Has anyone from the GN articulated the strategy? If they have I haven’t heard it. It seems to be everyone in the household is likely to get sick, and that is not a good strategy.

    • Posted by become informed OLD trapper on

      OLD trapper be a little more respectful will you. Arviamiut are doing an awesome job with this and will beat it. Numbers will rise and fall just as the CPHO as said.

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        I don’t believe that I’m being disrespectful. What I have an issue with is that by now everyone should know how serious Covid-19 is, and that once it arrived in Arviat everyone should have been extra careful and ready to follow all of the guidelines.
        The virus went from 1 infection to over 100 in 8 days, and yesterday was double digits for new infections. Sorry but that’s not awesome. That indicates that there is still a huge problem.
        I do wish everyone well and would like to see Arviamuit beat this, but everyone has to follow all of the rules. One person can spread this to tens or hundreds of other people if they are not careful.

  3. Posted by okay on

    So after all these months, this way the plan – to send in the red but first spend millions of dollars to southern businesses and hotels. Whale Cove Strong!

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