GN releases plan to ‘live with’ COVID-19
New cases of the virus won’t automatically trigger a lockdown
With the ultimate goal to lift Nunavut’s public health emergency and all isolation requirements, the territory’s Health Department has released a plan to “live with COVID-19.”
The report says new cases of the virus won’t trigger immediate community lockdowns, “drastic” public health measures, or a “complete change of life.”
Instead, it considers COVID-19 to be similar to other vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles or whooping cough. If new cases come up in a particular community, the response will depend on how many people there have had a vaccine.
Vaccine category groups
The plan breaks communities into three categories of vaccination levels.
If a case is detected in a community where 75 per cent or more of the eligible population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, there will be restrictions on gathering sizes, masks will be mandatory and fewer people will be allowed in restaurants and bars.
If 50 to 74 per cent are vaccinated, a case of the virus would trigger higher restrictions on gathering sizes, lower limits on people allowed in restaurants and bars and again, mandatory masks.
These restrictions will be even tighter for communities with 49 per cent or less of the eligible population is vaccinated and a case of COVID-19 is detected. Plus, there will be added restrictions for in-person health services and work places.
Vaccination rates will also guide the Department of Education’s school reopening plan in communities with cases of COVID-19.
Schools don’t automatically need to close down if a case is reported, the plan says, but they could if there is uncontrolled spread within the community.
“The benefits of vaccines and lessons learned since the start of the pandemic shows that our goal should be to keep schools open,” the plan states.
Fully vaccinated travellers and their dependents who cannot get vaccinated are no longer required to isolate in southern isolation hubs.
The next step in the plan is to offer in-territory isolation to all non-vaccinated Nunavummiut, with an end goal to lift isolation requirements for all travellers, regardless of vaccination status.
Another change in the new strategy is the threshold for declaring an outbreak.
If more cases of COVID-19 are reported, an outbreak being declared will depend on factors like at least five per cent of tests coming back positive — showing hidden transmission — or a variant of the virus showing up.
If an outbreak is declared, that’s when public health restrictions like long-term care facilities closing to visitors, taxis only taking one person at a time, and and non-essential businesses closing, would come into effect.
In the event of an outbreak, all schools may close and travel would be restricted.
The plan says once people of all ages can get the vaccine, eventually, the goal is to lift the public health emergency that has been in place in March 2020.
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have announced they are undergoing clinical trials to test their COVID-19 vaccines on children as young as six months.