Nunavut extends its public health emergency until Oct. 1
“The communicable disease COVID-19 continues to present a risk to public health in Nunavut”
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.
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.