Health minister, top doctor warn of rising of viruses during holidays

Celebrate safely, GN health officials advise as holidays approach

Government of Nunavut Health Minister John Main, seen here, and new chief public health officer Dr. Sean Wachtel asked Nunavummiut to celebrate safely over the holidays, as cases of multiple viruses are rising across the territory. (File photo)

By David Lochead

Nunavut Health Minister John Main and the territory’s new chief public health officer Dr. Sean Wachtel are advising Nunavummiut to celebrate safely over the holidays amid a rise in multiple viruses across the territory and the country.

“I urge all Nunavummiut to play their part in keeping our communities healthy,” Wachtel said.

That rise is among cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, the flu virus and COVID-19. The number of RSV cases, which is a respiratory illness, is at 493 for this year across the territory, Wachtel said.

The current hospitalization count this year for RSV is at 86, he added.

Wachtel also said the total number of COVID-19 cases in the territory for this year stands at 3155, with 84 hospitalizations.

For the flu, there were 212 cases in the territory in 2019, and 13 in 2021. But this year, there have been 634, Wachtel said. He added these numbers, like those for the other viruses, show “a surge in infections after easing pandemic restrictions.”

To illustrate how respiratory viruses are impacting the territory, Wachtel spoke about his experience earlier this year as a clinician in the Kivalliq, helping infants who had respiratory illnesses. Less serious breathing problems would be able to be treated at a regional hospital in an area like Rankin Inlet, while more serious cases meant infants had to be medevaced to Winnipeg. Infants who had more serious cases tended to be infected with multiple viruses at once, Wachtel said.

The rising number of viral infections has not put as much as pressure on admissions into the health system in Nunavut as it has in the south, territorial chief of staff for Nunavut’s health department Dr. Francois de Wet said.

Where there has been an uptick, however, is in the number of medevacs needed, he added.

Southern hospitals are still accepting Nunavut patients though, de Wet said.

“As long as we can get the patients transferred and get to an appropriate centre of care we should be fine,” he added.

To keep communities safe, both Main and Wachtel emphasized celebrating safely, and that people feeling sick stay home from gatherings.

Wachtel mentioned vaccination as an important step to protect against severe illness.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of influence and flu vaccines,” he said.

Main said that he understands everyone wants to celebrate, but being safe can come from taking small actions. Those actions can be using a rapid test or telling family members that, if they are sick, a meal can be saved for them instead of attending a dinner gathering, he added.

“I’m hopeful we can avoid what would have been a much larger surge if people take those precautions,” Main said.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by S on

    WHY are we being fearmongered by politicians and the media over the common cold (RSV and covidia) and the regular flu? Well, several reasons,,,

    • Posted by What are they? on

      What are the reasons? I would think the main reason is a concern that our ongoing insufficient health infrastructure and human resources in Nunavut will not be able to address a large surge in respiratory illness.

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        Well said What Are They! S either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the massive negative impacts that Flu, RSV and Covid continue to have on health care capacity across the country. S will Likely also the first one to whine and complain if he/she/they are unable to access a doctor or have a long ER wait because both are completely inundated with patients. Get your vaccines S.

      • Posted by S on

        It is indisputable that religious conformation by the masses – epitomized by the unwillingness to question the doctrine put forth by politicians and their so-called experts – has been an ongoing outcome of fearmongering

        The masses have been trained to echo their own indoctrination – and now inability to question – often by using naive and moralizing comments such as,

        “I would think the main reason is a concern that our ongoing insufficient health infrastructure and human resources in Nunavut will not be able to address a large surge in respiratory illness.”


        “either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the massive negative impacts that Flu, RSV and Covid continue to have on health care capacity across the country”

  2. Posted by Probably going to be fines on

    Seems like enforcement is huge. Get your patiq games planned out. Make some food to sell and get money for substances. IQ values

  3. Posted by boo on

    I’m sick of getting advise from these people.

    WE KNOW HOW TO LIVE! The gov’t doesn’t have our best interest either.

  4. Posted by Social junky on

    I am a pretty social dude, I deal with a lot of people, and been through a few communities and cities in the last few weeks. Met no one with a respiratory illness. If you fear mongers want to scare us with sickness gonna have to use something else, ya’ll wasted your grace with COVID

    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Of course, stick to your misinformation ol’ anonymous one.

      I prefer the knowledge of professional experts over you clowns.

      Obviously unaware of the sicknesses and death of our kids due to RSV

      Keep spreading your garbage, go get sick then come back.

      Idiots !!

      • Posted by Brenda on

        Like any good soldier, Mr. Murphy has learned to follow orders without question. We can’t have soldiers running around who actually think for themselves.

        • Posted by Observation Post on

          The most interesting thing about Mr. Murphy, as I see it, is his inability to regulate emotion in the comment section.

  5. Posted by S on

    NN, this should be moved to the HEALTH section

  6. Posted by Frank on

    This is what blind adherence to the “Covid protocols” has done to us. Social distancing, masking and isolating at home have never been proven to be more than marginally effective and have resulted in a degradation of our natural immune system and enormous damage to the the economy and social fabric of this country and others. But the fear-mongering continues.

    The government experiment to see if we would all be unquestioningly compliant was a total success. Well …. except for those Nazi, anti-vaxxer truckers with their “unacceptable” views.

    The next big fearsome issue will be the threat of “devastating” climate change. And we will comply with whatever the all-knowing government asks of us, regardless of the negative consequences to our lives and economies because that’s what good Canadians do. Never mind that there will be little, if any, affect on the climate just as there was little or no affect on Covid – we (most of us anyway) were saved only by the vaccine.

  7. Posted by Up here on

    Glad to see more people are waking up to the truth instead of the feed! Alinaiiiiit

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