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

Nunavut’s Health Department is urging more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (File photo)

By Jeff Pelletier

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
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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Thank You Dr. Rochette on

    The health board has done a great job in the last 2 years of managing the pandemic and keeping nunavimmiut safe. Thank you

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    • Posted by A good job wasn’t done by all on

      I can agree the board of health did good with managing the pandemic. But they did withhold vital information that could have help the process do much better. They should have share more information about the situation of those who were sick, and needed hospitalization. And those who have passed away from Covid. The information could have included, preexisting health conditions, vaccinated or not. The behaviours of those affect, like not wearing mask, gatherings, anything to support the seriousness, so that the public could see first hand the impact, as by awareness to the characteristics of Covid reality. I think it would have help more people to be compliant and cooperative. The public in Nunavik did a terrible job in dealing with Covid, fake news lead the way for them.

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  2. Posted by JOHNNY on

    We cannot stay like this forever. no schitt , now put the truck in gear and move forward.

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    • Posted by Stay like what? on

      Isn’t the doctor aware of the behaviour of so many in our population that contributing to the increase of Covid? That’s how it’s been. Off course we need not stay like that forever. We need to have more insight into our issues, and then we will grow much better, we shouldn’t stay ignorant forever. It’s disappointing to hear comments coming from the doctor, that contradicts the cooperation of so many, all telling the defiant that we shouldn’t have to stay like that forever, as it will be ok now as we move forward. Those OS that cooperated, done so with the stupid behaviours of the unvaccinated. And most of us, didn’t find the mandatory living restrictions too bad anyway , as we went about our lives. Yes inconvenience, but not devastating. It’s like the doctor saying: the unvaccinated did well, and it’s time we go on with life. I agree that we should go on, but it’s not even over yet. We’re seeing a surge in a new sub variant of omicron as we go forward.

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  3. Posted by Resident on

    Who is Dr. Marie Rochette? The majority of townsfolk have never heard of this person. What they sound like and what they look like is a mystery. So many strangers work in the north that are not actual members of the community and they are tucked away making decisions about peoples lives that they share little in common with. Nameless faceless unknowns advising me what to do make me want to do the opposite of whatever they say.

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  4. Posted by Virtual on

    It’s the virtual way of thinking that got decision makers hidden justified behind something or another. I want to have a face on it too, and yes who are those that come in to the north, and virtually make decisions that affect us all.? Not to conclude that all such decisions are bad, but with such important impacts with such decisions, there needs to be better connections to the decision makers and the people affected. I think it’s even disrespectful to disconnect from the population that way. All in all, I’m speaking also from having witness some awful decisions as well, that needs addressing with the face attached.

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  5. Posted by Lucy on

    Thank you Dr Rochette, Minnie Grey and all the emergency response team. With the help of everyone, we were able to eliminate the sickness in Pov almost two years ago. With all the built in frustration and worry, we got over it. We really were protected with your guidance. And I’m sorry for all the awful things I said to you. You did an amazing job.

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