Halloween is still on, Nunavut’s chief public health officer tells students

Families encouraged to celebrate Halloween outside and with small gatherings

Dr. Michael Patterson spoke to students from across Nunavut on Wednesday to answer their questions about COVID-19. (Screenshot from Microsoft Teams)

By Jeff Pelletier

Children can trick-or-treat this year with precautions, says Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

Dr. Michael Patterson made the announcement Wednesday in response to a question from a student at a virtual COVID-19 town hall for schools.

“There will be a Halloween this year,” he said.

He advised those planning to don costumes and hunt for treats to avoid large groups, and he said people giving out candy should do so outside to avoid spreading COVID-19.

Students from across the territory tuned into the town hall on Microsoft Teams. Questions were pre-submitted by teachers, and the discussion was moderated by Chris Puglia, a Department of Health spokesperson.

There were several questions about vaccines. Specifically, students asked about when they might be available to children under the age 12.

Patterson said that vaccines for children under 12 are not available until they are approved by Health Canada; however, he encouraged children to get the vaccine when it is available.

“There have been billions of doses of the vaccine given around the world, and we do know that they reduce your chance of getting severe infection,” he said.

Students also asked Patterson about the potential of more lockdowns and school closures. On Wednesday, Nunavut was declared COVID-free for the first time since summer.

Patterson said the current measures are designed to avoid another lockdown and that he hopes schools won’t have to close again.

“The problems caused by closing the schools are greater than the risk of COVID-19,” he said. “The focus is on keeping schools open.”

Several students asked about life after the pandemic and when a sense of normalcy can return.

“We’ll be looking at further easing the public health measures, including the increasing size of gatherings and rules like that, once we’re able to vaccinate younger children,” he said.

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