Nunavut first declared a public health emergency in March due to COVID-19. That’s been extended yet again until Oct. 1. (File image)

Nunavut extends its public health emergency until Oct. 1

“The communicable disease COVID-19 continues to present a risk to public health in Nunavut”

By Jane George

On Thursday, Sept. 17, Nunavut’s Minister of Health George Hickes said the territory’s public health emergency would be extended until Oct. 1.

All existing measures under the public health emergency order remain in effect, Hickes said.

Hickes’ announcement came hours before Baffinland Mines Corp. reported a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 at the mine site.

An employee had recently arrived at the site and was asymptomatic, Baffinland said.

The company said it has maintained a strict no-contact policy with local communities and there continues to be no threat of transmission.

Nunavut has so far not registered any confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in the territory.

Nunavut’s Public Health Act order extending the state of public health emergency in the territory, which was signed on Sept. 17, says “the communicable disease COVID-19 continues to present a risk to public health in Nunavut; whereas this risk to public health cannot be sufficiently mitigated or remedied without the continuation of special measures.”

So the “Minister of Health, on the recommendation of the Chief Public Health Officer, under section 40 of the Public Health Act and every enabling power, extends the state of public health emergency for all of Nunavut until the end of October 1, 2020.”

This means, with exception of essential workers and mine workers who fly directly to their mine site via chartered flights, only Nunavut residents and critical workers continue to be permitted to travel into the territory.

That’s after they complete a two-week period of isolation in the south.

As of Sept. 11, GN said there were 746 people, out of the territory’s 38,000 residents, in isolation at hotels in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

Various issues, including disturbances by intoxicated guests, have rocked these hubs.

While the state of emergency has now been extended to Oct. 1, some workers at these hubs have told guests that their contracts have already been extended to December, and could also be extended beyond that into 2021.

Meanwhile, in Nunavut, under the state of public health emergency, the limit on gatherings at places of worship, conference facilities, community halls, rented meeting spaces, and gatherings organized by the Government of Canada, the GN, municipal corporations, or regional Inuit organizations has been set at 50 people or 50 per cent of capacity for the facility, whichever is less.

And all other indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. In private dwellings, this means 10 people in addition to those who reside there.

In its announcement about the extension of the state of emergency, the Health Department reminded Nunavummiut that the symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Nunavummiut are reminded to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and to stay home if they feel unwell, the Health Department said.

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 should call the COVID hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EDT, or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately self-isolate at home for 14 days.


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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Indefinite Emergency on

    I hope the MLAs ask some hard questions next week. This continues to go on and on. They are already preparing to extend to December before science and the doctor even can conclude it will be necessary. I should be able to isolate at home for two weeks if I can, I don’t know why they won’t permit this for those who have the space. It’s like they are saying they don’t trust people or can’t be bothered to enforce, so it is easier to just not even explore this approach.

    • Posted by eff on

      “I don’t know why they won’t permit this for those who have the space.”

      How would you regulate that exactly?

      Don’t pretend that overcrowding in Nunavut isn’t a thing. Many people don’t have the luxury to isolate at home.

      And let’s not pretend everyone is trust worthy and responsible.

      The hubs are annoying but necessary… and apparently they are working.

      “They are already preparing to extend to December before science and the doctor even can conclude it will be necessary.”

      Are you even paying attention to what’s going on down south? Do you have a TV?

      • Posted by Plans Can Be Madd on

        When you return to Canada or visit the Atlantic provinces you submit an isolation plan stating where you’ll stay and how that will accommodate you for two weeks. That is vetted and approved or rejected. If I have an apartment and live alone, why can I not be offered the same option as other parts of Canada? The answer seems to be that Nunavummuit are children and cannot be trusted.

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      Funny thing about pandemics, they tend to last many years with peaks lasting three to seven years. Basically enough time for the virus to kill off the majority of people who don’t develop an immunity, or for the population to develop herd immunity.

      As for trusting people to self isolate, yeah it’s not very reliable given human nature. I recall when this started and the government was arranging repatriation flights. Returning from Spain, one girl, once she was back in Canada admitted that she lied that she was symptom free when boarding the flight. She coughed nonstop on the flight back and likely infected dozens of people on the flight. It would have been tough for her, having Covid-19 and remaining in Spain so let’s just think of yourself and spread it to as many of my fellow citizens as I can.

      Even now returning citizens are to voluntarily self isolate. This also applies to non citizens that are allowed in to visit their Canadian relatives. Want to bet that that the Canadian relative is not isolating, and if they catch Covid-19 from their visitor it’s going to spread rapidly in the community.

      I’d rather put up with a little inconvenience even for a year, or two, than catch Covid-19 and die.

      • Posted by By that logic on

        By your logic Canada should not allow a single person into the country. That hasn’t happened and no other health official is suggesting it. You can fly to Canada and quarantine for 14 days. You should be able to do the same for Nunavut if you have a valid isolation plan.

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