Nunavut reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, Nov. 25. (File photo)

Nunavut prepares for territory-wide COVID-19 lockdown

Territory’s COVID-19 cases have climbed to 26

By Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, announced today that the entire territory will go into a lockdown for two weeks starting on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Nunavut’s COVID-19 caseload climbed to 26 on Monday from 18, with six new cases being confirmed in Arviat and two additional cases being confirmed in Rankin Inlet.

There are two cases in Sanikiluaq, four in Rankin Inlet and 20 in Arviat.

Patterson announced the lockdown as an effort to stop the current outbreak from spreading any more than it has.

“Through our investigations, we have a concern that COVID-19 may spread to additional communities,” said Patterson, “which is why we are initiating a territory-wide lockdown with restrictions similar to what we saw in March and April.”

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq expanded on the announcement by offering a metaphor: “Think of it as a circuit breaker, a chance to reset,” he said.

“We do not want to be back to the restrictions we had in the spring, but for the health and safety of Nunavummiut, this is necessary.”

Non-essential workplaces must close, and people must work from home if they are able to.

Patterson recommends residents wear masks in public places and when physical distancing is not possible. Masks are mandatory in the Kivalliq region, and Sanikiluaq.

Non-essential travel is not recommended. Schools are closed and students will learn either online or through take-home learning packages.

Daycares will be closed to everyone except children of essential workers.

Restrictions on private gatherings remain the same—outdoor gatherings of more than five people are not allowed, and a maximum of five people are allowed in dwellings, in addition to members of the household, though Patterson stressed that this limit is intended more in case of emergencies, like requiring tradespeople to enter a dwelling for urgent repair work.

“We really would strongly recommend that people not treat it as a loophole to have five people over to have a small party,” said Patterson, adding that having no guests over is ideal.

All recreation facilities are closed, and sporting activities and events are suspended.

Restaurants are takeout only and bars are closed.

Businesses that offer personal services such as haircuts and massages are closed.

Health centres and the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit are closed except for emergency services.

Visits to elder centers and long-term care centres is on hold for at least two weeks unless approved by the public health physician on call. Community members who are checking on elders are asked to maintain strict distancing and avoid going inside homes if possible.

Government of Nunavut services will be maintained. Staff will work from home when it’s possible to do so.

According to Patterson, the Department of Health will look for ways to isolate individuals who are homeless.

“Limiting any potential exposure to the virus is our best possible defence in Nunavut,” Patterson said.

There will be no changes to how Nunavut treats residents returning to the territory from the Northwest Territories travel bubble. It would be up to the N.W.T. government to make changes involving visits by Nunavut travellers, Patterson said.

For Nunavummiut currently in isolation hubs in the south, those “who want to wait a bit to see what’s happening can stay a little bit longer,” said Patterson, “but otherwise then returning home is fine.”

Patterson’s office will re-evaluate the effectiveness of the lockdown measures on Dec. 2.

“If we all do our part, we will be in a much better position in early December,” said Savikataaq.

“Please don’t take chances unless it’s absolutely necessary. Stay home and stay safe.”

Health Minister Lorne Kusugak concluded Monday’s press conference by urging Nunavummiut to focus on what is in their control.

“Now is not the time for everyone in Nunavut to be an investigator. Do not worry about who, what or how it got here,” he said.

“We ask [that] you worry about how we stop the spread and that starts with you, that starts with each and every one of us.”

Anyone who has reason to believe he or she has been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call the COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately self-isolate at home for 14 days. People should not go to the health centre in person.

The GN has scheduled its next news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 11 a.m.

With files from Meagan Deuling and Dustin Patar

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(35) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northener on

    So what about the beer store ?

    • Posted by NorthernHer on

      That’s an essential service! ;p

      • Posted by nunadrink on

        Yeah, with the kids trapped at home all day and night with nowhere to go for relief, lets add some drunk parents to the mix. It went very poorly for many children in Iqaluit last time everything shut down and the beer store remained open.

        • Posted by Malt Maniac on

          Having a drink or two after the kids go to bed can be a nice moment during a stressful time. No need to get drunk and lose control of yourself, granted I know many can’t experience alcohol in this way.

      • Posted by Homer Simpson on

        Better do a beer run before lock down

  2. Posted by George on

    This hardly qualifies as a “lockdown”!

    Restrict all but emergency travel between all communities. No gatherings of any size outside your own household. That’s what’s needed.

  3. Posted by Where though? on

    Would like to know where the new cases are popping up?

  4. Posted by Growing fast on

    Wow the cases are growing fast. Don’t know why we aren’t being told where those cases are though. This seems like the kind of information the public should know

      • Posted by boris pasternak on

        Many from this community has no regards for isolation rules in wpg as patients, careless because a short chance for city lights and actions. Drunks and stoned which is Arviat culture. Shame; so we suffer in this community because of their actions. Hopefully we have not passed it on to nunavut.

    • Posted by Southerner in the North on

      The news article doesn’t report it, but the news conference was extremely clear that the vast majority of new cases are in Arviat. There is also one new case in Rankin Inlet (which is linked to Arviat). There are concerns that individuals may travelled after having been in contact with people from Arviat who could have been infectious. Contract tracing is being done to sort this out. But rather than wait for the results of that, it was decided do this partial lockdown to prevent further spreading.

    • Posted by George on

      The names of the communities where the cases have appeared has been well-publicized.

      Common sense would tell you that you should assume that the corona virus is present now in your community and take appropriate action. By the time to you find out it’s arrived it can be too late to prevent community spread.

      • Posted by Growing Fast on

        Yes George, we know where the cases were as of yesterday. It would be nice to know where the “new cases” are today, though. If all were in Rankin, for example, it would indicate community transmission.
        Either way, I see the numbers have been provided above at least; that’s what we call a useful contribution to a discussion, take a look at it.

        • Posted by Northern Guy on

          More than one case in any one community equals community transmission. You can take it on faith that there has been community transmission in all three affected communities.

          • Posted by Growing Fast on

            Not exactly, community transmission is:
            “when there is no clear source of origin of the infection in a new community. It happens when you can no longer identify who became infected after being exposed to someone who interacted with people from the other infected communities.” (from WebMD).
            So, more than one case occurring in a community doesn’t mean ‘community transmission’ unless you can’t identify the source. You could have multiple cases within one family, for example, and you would not have community transmission because you could identify the lines of transmission.

    • Posted by Alan Klie on

      I think all the new cases are in Arviat.

    • Posted by Numbers on

      Most are in Arviat, some in Rankin Inlet, and Sanikiluaq still is at one or two, whatever they had a few days ago. (A different article gave the numbers).

  5. Posted by Joe Joe on

    Something smells, who in the government knew of the first cases and when? Why was the communities not told within 24 hours of the positive tests? After spending all that money on isolation hubs it was more than likely the hub created the outbreak? Why weren’t tests done all people including essentials? Why were masks not made mandatory months ago?

    I’m not seeing Dr. Patterson as hero here, the health department were running these hubs, ultimately under Patterson.You go through 14 days isolation and dropped off at the curb in Winnipeg, free to mingle throughout the airport.

    At the very least when this is over Dr.Patterson created a lot of heartache with his plan. For those saying it prevented it coming here for months, there is no proof that any of these measures did anything except cost taxpayers millions.

  6. Posted by Joe Taylor on

    Wife is nurse who travels

  7. Posted by iWonder on

    Things are moving fast right now for sure, especially in Arviat which seems to have lost control very quickly.
    In the end, when we have time to look back and reflect on how this was handled, I agree with those who have asked why testing hasn’t become part of the protocol before people were allowed into the territory. Depending in how this turns out, that question could loom very large.

  8. Posted by One week on

    It took one week for Nunavut to have the highest infection rate in Canada’s three Territories. One week. If we dont’ get it under control, we will have hundreds of infections at the same time next week. This is not a joke.
    Too much misinformation and people are eating it up. People online are comparing health orders and government restrictions to colonialism. This virus does not care if you’re white, inuit or black. This is not the time to be using peoples past trauma’s to advertise a grossly misleading political statement.
    We can do this Nunavut!

    • Posted by Name withheld on

      I so agree with you “One Week” on this !!
      It was bound to Nunavut!! Dr Patterson did great keeping it out with the travel restrictions, otherwise it would have been here long ago.

      Everyone stop complaining we are not in the US, get on with isolation at home, wash your hands and wear a mask!! As this person said Covid does not care of your color nor gender!!

  9. Posted by Kangiqthliniq resident on

    “Nunavut’s COVID-19 caseload climbed to 26 on Monday from 18, with six new cases being confirmed in Arviat and two additional cases being confirmed in Rankin Inlet.
    There are two cases in Sanikiluaq, four in Rankin Inlet and 20 in Arviat.”

    It’s obvious the cases in Arviat is via community transmission. What about Rankin Inlet? As a resident of Rankin Inlet, Id like to know if these new cases in Rankin are from community transmission or household transmission? I dont want to know who the person(s) are, but would like to know if it’s community or household transmission.

    Sta safe Kivalliqmiuqatiks, no judgment needed. This virus does not discriminate whether you’ve isolated or not or essential or not.

    • Posted by Macemaker on

      I totally agree with you getting the facts on if the new cases are spread from with in community or were they from wpg?, if it is from same household yes bound to happen, but on other hand isolation hubs are too laxed, and some patients are like zombies and will hava night out through any loop hole. Now with kitimeot patients going to Edmonton this needs to be meticulously under controlled. It seems too many are not aware that you can unknowingly pick it up at airport on their way home and instantly running all over town as soon as they’ve reach home…sad reality.

  10. Posted by Taxpayers on

    Follow guidelines
    Don’t ask for CERB while on lockdown
    Hope for the best

    • Posted by Jonathan Wright on

      My wife and I are both self employed artists here in Iqaluit and the minute COVID hit Canada in March, things got scary financially for us very quickly. Both our young children were home with us, so even if contracts magically came to us during that time, we couldn’t work to meet deadlines. In our self-employed worlds, if we don’t produce, we don’t get paid. No biweekly paycheques like most people working here for government institutions. It was CERB that allowed us to feed our kids. And I will absolutely be applying again.

  11. Posted by Johanne coutu-autut on

    Why is out chief medical officer only “recommending” people outside the Kivalliq region to wear mask when in public , inside buildings that are not your house:It should should be mandatory every where in Nunavut!!! The cat is out of the bag now, some people are asymptomatic and probably spreading covid. It could be your community next. It was incredibly irresponsible to make excuses for people saying that some are claustrophobic when wearing masks giving people excuses now not to wear them. Guess what yes they are uncomfortable but unless you have a dr note that you cant wear one, there are face shields but are more effective when also wearing a mask, wear the darn mask! Better than being intubated later or killing someone from your carelessness

  12. Posted by A weak plan from the start on

    1000s and 1000s were allowed to skip the issolation hubs because they made a case that they were essential. Who was made essential? Anyone they felt like it. Yes some nurses, but also politicians (I know what the heck), as well as some had their stay in the hub shortened due to mental health issues or various reasons. I am all for keeping everyone safe but to me it felt like they themselves didn’t take it seriously. I heard the GN ask people not to leave the north and then they themselves did. Some tried to cover their weak reason with excuses claiming they needed to visit their parents. We all have parents that we wanted to visit. I would like to see them practice what they preach.
    Lastly folks stop having friends over to visit and posting pictures on social media. Or pictures hugging your family and friends with the masks on then off. Y’all look foolish and should be charged!

  13. Posted by Uvanga on

    I recently heard of 2 different cases of people going to Ottawa for ‘check ups’, not operations, MRIs, etc. during this time. Follow up non-urgent appointments that are not cancelled. Additionally, thsee same 2 separate cases will be in Ottawa for 4 days and DO NOT have to remain in isolation hubs for 14 days?

    • Posted by anon on

      Way to add to the rumour mill. Ottawa has mandatory mask orders and if someone is masking properly and practicing social distancing and handwashing while there the risk of transmission is low. Now that masks are required here too and there’s a lockdown, even if they do come back within 4 days everyone will be at home and not out and about so again, low risk of any possible transmission.

      Stay home, wear masks if you must go out, wash hands, etc. Don’t spread rumours.

  14. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Dr. Patterson is doing what he can to provide the proper guidance on how to reduce and eliminate this virus from Nunavut.
    At this time it doesn’t matter “how” it arrived. I think it is amazing that Nunavut has been virus free for so long and it has given time for some limited preparation. We now need to listen to the experts to eliminate this risk to all of our lives.
    The first thing to realize is that people may show symptoms (cough, sniffles, fever, loss of sense of smell/taste) or they may be completely asymptomatic (no symptoms). We also know that people start shedding virus up to 2 days before they show symptoms.
    Make believe that this is the zombie apocalypse but that a zombie looks “normal” and only has to breath on you to turn you into one of the “undead”. The only smart thing to do is to assume that everyone has the virus and may pass it onto you and your loved ones.
    Stay home if you can.
    If you are out in public wear a mask and/or face shield.
    Stay 2 meters (six feet) away from others.
    Send only one person out to do shopping.
    Try to shop only every second or third day.
    Do not have friends or relatives over.
    Make sure that kids are not playing with other kids outside.
    Do not share cigarettes, joints, or drinks.
    Wash your hands often.
    Yes it will be hard to follow the rules but remember that the virus needs new hosts or it cannot survive and spread. The aim is to reduce the virus to nothing. Look at the Atlantic provinces, they have been fairly successful keeping the virus at or near zero cases.
    If everyone follows the rules for 2 weeks Nunavut can get back to zero cases. Remember a vaccine is coming and will probably be available in the spring. Nunavut will be one of the first places to get the virus. Let’s get through this together.

  15. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    CTV News is reporting an additional 34 cases, 26 in Arviat and 8 now in Whale Cove linked to the outbreak in Arviat. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
    Time to act as if everyone you meet has the virus. Stay home. Stay safe.

  16. Posted by Accountability on

    With somewhere in the range of $50 million dollars for these hubs and that going to continue on, I for one want some answers about how and why this has happened. How can it be prevented again? What will change?
    Thank you CPHO for telling tell us all for the 9999999th time to wash hands and social distance and so on but I want some answers about what failed and why this happened. It is called transparency and accountability. Unfortunately I don’t expect we will ever be told and this will all be lost with the next headline because throughout this ordeal it is starting to seem like scientists and public health doctors who are politically appointed are exempt from having their actions and plans criticized on a political level.
    Don’t worry, I will wear my mask and follow guidelines out of self interest, but if you want to show the public that they should continue to trust your judgment going forward, start by being transparent. Let’s also be honest with the public and stop calling this a two week lockdown when we all know that you really mean ‘until further notice’.

    • Posted by Name withheld on

      The only way you will find out is if you start investigating yourself, make some calls to Arviat, But you need to understand every one who is affected by this virus is scared not only for themselves but for their love ones too.

      This person might have gotten it on his way to the airport or inside the terminal. No one knows.

      For the cases in Whale Cove, why was traveling allowed after confirm cases or what it before the confirmed cases in Arviat ?

      All we know is people need to be adult about this and play your role in eliminating this virus by reminding yourself and your family members within your household.

      Stay safe and follow the guidelines given.

  17. Posted by Monica Connolly on

    As I understand it, the NU cases did come via people who had been in isolation hubs, not exemptees. They are concentrating first on shutting down further transmission before going back to see what went wrong.
    The other things to remember are that when you are first infected, a test will not pick up on it until the virus has had time to reproduce to a critical level, and an infectious victim may not have typical symptoms or any symptoms. They figure the virus was in Arviat several days before it was identified.

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