Nunavut premier says Arviat will ‘win’ against COVID-19, as cases continue to drop

No COVID-19 variants found in the territory and no evidence of failed vaccines, says chief public health officer

Nunavut’s premier Joe Savikataaq, Dr. Michael Patterson, the chief public health officer and health minister Lorne Kusugak gave an update on COVID-19 in the territory on March 4. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Arviat might soon get some relief from lockdown, says Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

Dr. Michael Patterson offered a potential timeline for the community Thursday night, during the first COVID-19 news conference in a month, while confirming there is still no evidence of community transmission. This means public-health officials have been able to trace the source of every known case.

“If things continue on this way, we can look at working with the hamlet to ease some of the measures next week,” he said.

The government’s update came as 10 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Arviat on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases across Nunavut to 14 — all of them in Arviat.

He also confirmed there is no evidence of vaccine failure so far, meaning nobody in Arviat has contracted COVID-19 two weeks or more after getting the vaccine.

Arviat has seen 88 per cent of Nunavut’s 369 cases of COVID-19 since the virus arrived in the territory last fall. People in the community have been living under some form of lockdown since then, with a brief respite in January.

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq addressed Arviammiut as well, saying to look back at last week’s case count to track the community’s progress.

“Our weekly trend is still encouraging,” he said.

“[With] 25 active cases last Thursday, 14 today, that is a good number … Arviammiut, we will win.”

Patterson also gave an update on COVID-19 samples that were sent south to test whether new variants of the virus are present in Nunavut.

“Last I heard, there’s been no evidence of any new variants, especially those variants of concern,” he said.

Vaccinations to go ‘much faster’

Patterson also shared some encouraging news on the vaccine rollout.

With 11,000 more doses on the way, Nunavut is on track to receive enough of the Moderna vaccine for 75 per cent of the territory’s adult population by the end of March.

Once that shipment comes, a total of 37,000 doses will have arrived in the territory, he said. The very first doses were shipped just after Christmas last year.

Patterson says he expects vaccine clinics to continue into April.

As of Thursday, 8,628 Nunavummiut have received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine and 5,125 are fully vaccinated.

This means about 27 per cent of the territory’s adult population of about 19,000 has received two doses since the territory began vaccinations in January. Patterson said the vaccine rollout will speed up from here.

“As the vaccine supply ramps up … staff will be able to go much faster, much more efficiently, starting now.”

The GN is not releasing community-specific vaccination rates.

While Health Canada recently approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine for people over 18 years, and recent reports suggest the Pfizer vaccine can be more easily transported than originally believed, Patterson said he didn’t expect either to be used in Nunavut.

The territory has only received the Moderna vaccine, which was first chosen because it is easier to move and store than the Pfizer vaccine was thought to be.

“In a smaller population and scattered communities, the logistics of two or more vaccines for one condition is a bit too much,” Patterson said.

“We’re going to stick with Moderna if possible, but if it comes down to it … and it’s the only vaccine that we can get … we’ll make it work.”

Iqaluit is the only community in Nunavut where vaccines are being administered by priority group because of its larger population. Currently, people 45 years and older can make appointments to get the vaccine.

Lorne Kusugak, the minister of health, will be making an announcement related to vaccines in Iqaluit on Friday, Patterson said.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Surprised on

    This is surprising to say the least. Arviat did reach zero cases a few weeks ago, but the CPHO and the Hamlet of Arviat) acted much too soon and low and behold Arviat is in this predicament. If this government and the hamlet are now considering? It seem careless and reckless If there is another spread, which we all hope it doesn’t- then Dr. Patterson and the Hamlet will have failed the people of Arviat.

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    • Posted by Passive aggression against the machine on

      The people of arviat have failed themselves

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  2. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    So when is the rest of the communities in the Kivalliq ( except Arviat) going to be able to go to Winnipeg without isolating? Winnipeg Covid positivity rates are way down and a large majority of adults are now vaccinated in the Kivalliq. It says a lot that people who got vaccinated in Arviat are not getting sick. Give us our freedom to travel south again. Long overdue!; many people are postponing their medical appointments, surgeries and procedures in Winnipeg because they do not want to isolate for 14 days afterwards . Some cant find escorts because they do not want to isolate either at the hub . People have family and work obligations back home. This is hurting people’s health. Also when are the people who work at the mines going to be allowed to go back to work there? This is hurting families. Not everyone is getting 75% of their salary which the GN continues to repeat. Contractors who work at the mine do NOT. They were forced to go on EI which will expire soon.

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    • Posted by Goes Both Ways on

      Manitoba currently has a requirement that all travelers (domestic and international) self isolate for 14 days on arrival. The MB government does not provide accommodations, meals, etc for this. That includes anyone from Nunavut, they currently do not have an exemption for people with the vaccine. MB has been hit hard with COVID and are trying to get their population vaccinated. They have targeted care homes, health care workers and are now working on people 89 and over in the general population, 69 and over for First Nations. Nunavummiut will not be able to travel en masse to MB any time soon. Nunavut may ease the isolation hubs in the near future but that does not obligate MB to ease their restriction which is meant to prevent spread there as people without the vaccine can be asymptomatic spreaders i.e. anyone under 18.

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      • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

        I did not realize that Manitoba still has a mandatory 14 day isolation for people out of province ( leisure travel) and international people coming in. OK then Allow people who are going for medical appointments to Winnipeg who have had both vaccines plus 2 weeks after their second vaccine ( to have fullest immunity by then) to go for their medical appointments and not having to do 14 day isolation before returning to Nunavut. Manitoba exempts those people from isolating for 14 days upon entry into that Province. This will allow more people to want to attend their medical appointments (and escorts) that people have been postponing as they do not want to islolate for 14 days because of family, work obligations.

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  3. Posted by hermann kliest on

    Yes it can be won, but you have to find a way for the quarantined people to stay inside. They just do not listen; last week, I saw one they try to contain in the house, they could not handle him, addiction is sure strong, curb these items and we got it beat. 20 something, barely grade 5 or 6, addict, illiterate in both English and Inuktitut, they have no idea what the situation is and couldn’t careless. contain these addicts, we’ll win. let’s take the gloves off, lets not pretend anymore where the problem is…addicts and drunks sneaking around even at curfew hours. I am been one-sided here; the stores really don’t give a damn too with all these very valuable vouchers being handed out they are really full of customers…STOP Handing out vouchers, we are not going to starve. the altitude is that Nunavut is a welfare state starting here at southern kivalliq. communities; do not do want we are doing here, get tough on first sigh.

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  4. Posted by okay on

    I think almost everyone has missed the point with Arviat. Here is a little remote place with hardly any medical services that have survived the virus. What is special about Arviat that has made it came through on the other side stronger? Are the people in Arviat simply stronger than everyone else or is the virus not as bad as we are lead to believe. Arviat strong! Whatever it is, ARVIAT has risen above the doom and gloom concerning the impact of the virus.

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  5. Posted by The Beat Goes On on

    4 new cases today, 10 new yesterday… eventually everyone who can get it will have had it

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  6. Posted by get it resolved on

    New GN update today shows an increase of 4 new cases. Community now has 17 active cases.

    Easy resolve and probably less cost and stress to community. Charter those with active cases to ow of the Winnipeg hubs and let them quarantine under strict observation.

    walla Arviat, Nunavut zero.

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  7. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    You don’t “win” if everyone gets immunity by being infected.
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    Okay that is a bit over the top, but having 12% of your population infected is not a “win”. And that’s what the GN knows about, it doesn’t count all asymptomatic cases, and probably most of the under 18 y.o. cases.
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    Another thing, what is the GN’s definition of “community spread”? I would think that it would be spreading the virus between unrelated persons who are not living under the same roof.
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    Apparently that’s not the GN’s definition which appears to be as long as they can trace (possible) transmission from person to person it’s not community spread. This gives a false sense of reassurance.
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    I will say right now that for many cases there are probably 3 to 5 different vectors on how someone may have contracted the coronavirus. How the heck do you think it spreads? It’s in aerosol droplets, so when a person breathes, talks, yells, coughs, sneezes, when you are passing cigarettes or joints around, when you pass a bottle around. Yeah no community spread, with 300+ cases in a town of 2700, that I don’t believe.

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  8. Posted by Disappointment on

    truthfully, I’m from Rankin and as we get closer to spring I’m almost wishing we’d get a case here so we can go on lockdown and head out fishing/ cabining. Let Arviatmiut wander around here when they stop over for travel. Why not! We might get lucky and get a few weeks off to spend “at home” 🙂 We are tired of the current situation even if we are not in full lockdown. If I was in Arviat I’d be super stoked that this hopefully caries over into the spring, I know many who are actually staying at home waiting for the warmer weather to head out.
    You can do it!

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  9. Posted by Game Mentality on

    Talk about this like its a game or a war to be won if you want, but that implies an enemy who is without. I think it is more productive to look at the enemy is within, and the lack of self-restraint in Arviat, and call this what it is.

  10. Posted by High risk on

    There is still a very high risk for Arviat, most of the people listen and take the necessary precautions but a handful just do not listen and these few end up in Winnipeg for medical and head out to play slots and so on, without a care in the world.
    These few are a high risk of bringing back the Covid-19 virus back with them to the Kivalliq.
    Just take a look at some of them on their fb and see how carefree they are in Winnipeg, hopefully the 14 day isolation and testing will be enough to stop any new transmission of this sneaky virus.

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