Nunavut medical travellers treated in Yellowknife can go straight home
Nunavut government plans to start lifting social restrictions in the territory on June 1
Medical travel patients from the Kitikmeot who get treatment in Yellowknife will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to Nunavut.
Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, announced this on Thursday, May 21, saying it’s because there aren’t any active cases of COVID-19 in either Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.
“For all medical travellers to whom this new rule applies who are currently in quarantine, we are working to get you home as soon as possible.” Patterson said.
As of a few days ago, 44 medical travellers were in isolation in Yellowknife, but Patterson wasn’t sure how many of them had been treated in Yellowknife, as some may have been treated in Edmonton.
Patterson said the Department of Health is not focusing its efforts on sending more patients to Yellowknife in light of the fact that they’ll be able to come straight back, saying that would be a decision made when acute care is required, but that patients can still request referrals to Yellowknife.
The plan is to ease restrictions on social gatherings within Nunavut starting on June 1, Patterson said.
The Government of Nunavut now has the capacity to diagnose COVID-19 in both Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, now that the GeneXpert machine in Rankin Inlet is validated and ready to go, Patterson said.
Having diagnostic capabilities in two regions and not having any cases of COVID-19 in the territory are two requirements Patterson said had to be fulfilled before he would consider lifting restrictions on social contact.
Patterson said on Thursday that he’s still not ready to make any firm announcements on the specifics of this.
“It’s a lot to coordinate,” Patterson said, “There’s a lot of moving pieces in order to do it safely and in a manner that makes sense to everybody.”
Patterson said the Department of Health is working with a “wide range of partners” to get to a place where they’re ready to lift some restrictions. Those partners include the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission, which is creating guidelines for workplaces.
“The goal at the end of it is to get all businesses open,” Patterson said. He encouraged business owners and managers to get documents created by the WSCC to help them navigate operating their business during a pandemic.
Restrictions will be lifted in a “stepwise fashion,” Patterson said.
Three factors are being considered as the GN develops a plan to lift restrictions, Patterson said: the number of people gathering, the duration of the gathering and the nature of the contact.
And casual distanced outdoor contact carries less risk than intimate indoor contact, as in what occurs during a massage or at a hair salon, Patterson said.
Using these factors to gauge the risk of transmission, Patterson said the GN will allow the least risky social gatherings first, and then work up to higher risk gatherings.
Restrictions will be lifted in two-week increments, with assessments done in between.
A fourth factor is that some people, such as elders, are more vulnerable than others, Patterson said. Lifting restrictions at care homes will therefore come last.
More information about what will be allowed on June 1 will come early next week, Patterson said.