Nunavik ‘cannot stay like this forever,’ public health director says
The lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the region will follow Quebec’s reopening plan, but two weeks slower, says Dr. Marie Rochette
The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Nunavik is going ahead, following the rest of the province, but will be around two weeks slower in its application.
Dr. Marie Rochette, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services director of public health, says the region’s slower reopening is meant to ensure local health centres are not overwhelmed by an uptick in COVID-19 patients.
“We wanted to be careful, to be prudent with that, so this is why we’ve been trying to go step by step and look at the data,” she said.
On Monday, the region lifted restrictions on restaurants and indoor gatherings, matching what the province did at the beginning of February. In the rest of Quebec, larger seating capacities and gatherings are allowed.
Only 55 per cent of Nunavik’s population has been vaccinated with at least two doses, according to the latest immunization information released by the health board. One of the factors that limits increasing that rate is that it’s not recommended that people who have tested positive for COVID-19 get vaccinated within three months of infection, Rochette said.
Despite that, Rochette is encouraging Nunavimmiut to get vaccinated in the region’s ongoing “vaccination blitz” to prevent the health-care system in the region from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.
“It is still very effective to reduce hospitalization,” she said. “We could see from last fall to now that we were able to increase the number of people immunized, and we hope that with this blitz … we will be able to increase the vaccination coverage.”
The number of COVID-19 cases has decreased across Nunavik over the past month, with the exception of Inukjuak, which accounted for 119 of the region’s 220 active cases on Wednesday. Inukjuak remains under a self-imposed lockdown due to the outbreak in the community.
Active cases were reported to be under 20 in all other Nunavik communities, with Aupaluk and Salluit each reporting zero.
After several months during which communities were locked down, Rochette says it’s important to carefully open up with the rest of Quebec and to monitor how the region’s health centres are operating.
“We cannot stay like this forever,” she said. “We have to reopen with the rest of the province, but again, we want to do it carefully.”
Active COVID-19 cases in Nunavik, as of Feb. 16:
- Akulivik: 15
- Aupaluk: zero
- Inukjuak: 119
- Ivujivik: 2
- Kangiqsualujjuaq: 4
- Kangiqsujuaq: 17
- Kangirsuk: 1
- Kuujjuaq: 14
- Kuujjuarapik: 6
- Puvirnituq: 6
- Quaqtaq: 17
- Salluit: zero
- Tasiujaq: 7
- Umiujaq: 12