Nunavut must meet three conditions before lifting COVID-19 restrictions
“If we lift these restrictions too early, we will increase the risk to Nunavummiut”
Nunavut will need to meet certain criteria before it can lift restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the territory’s chief medical officer says.
Some jurisdictions in Canada are already looking to lift those restrictions, Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said at a news conference on Wednesday, April 29.
“I’d like to speak in more detail about what needs to happen before we do the same,” Patterson said.
Three conditions need to be met before Nunavut can start relaxing its existing restrictions, he said:
- In-territory diagnostic capacity. “This means that we need to be able to implement a rapid, accurate and comprehensive COVID testing program here in Nunavut,” Patterson said.
- “Significant” indication that rates of COVID-19 are decreasing in other jurisdictions that Nunavummiut often visit. Those jurisdictions include Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
- No active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.
“The nature of these conditions means that it is difficult to assign a specific timeline to the reopening, but fulfilment of these is necessary to minimize risk to public health and safety,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he is aware that people are eager to go back to work, visit loved ones and engage in social activities.
“However, if we lift these restrictions too early, we will increase the risk to Nunavummiut. If we aren’t careful about how we transition back … we could effectively undo all the hard work and sacrifices that have been made over the past seven weeks,” he said.
“It is as important as ever that we stay the course. Maintain social distancing, stay home when possible, wash your hands often. These measures continue to be the best defence against COVID-19 and the best way to protect our families, our communities and our territory.”
The Government of Nunavut has also extended the territory’s public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic until May 14. In Nunavut, an order to declare a public health emergency expires after 14 days.
There are still no confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.