Sanikiluaq’s COVID-19 outbreak declared over
“Both the community and the health staff deserve recognition for getting to this point,” says Nunavut’s top doctor
The outbreak of COVID-19 in Sanikiluaq is now officially over, says Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer.
The announcement, made during a news conference on Friday, comes 28 days after the recovery of Sanikiluaq’s last positive case of COVID-19. Monitoring is now no longer being conducted in the community.
“This is good news and both the community and the health staff deserve recognition for getting to this point,” said Patterson.
“With that said, I urge everyone in Sanikiluaq and across the territory to continue to be diligent about following the public health measures. This will be especially important as we head into the Christmas season.”
Patterson added that current public health measures in all communities will remain in place until further notice.
Nunavut’s number of active cases of COVID-19 continues to drop, with the territory reporting no new cases of infection today.
Nunavut now has 34 active cases, according to Premier Joe Savikataaq. That’s down from 37 cases yesterday and 56 one week ago. To date, 225 Nunavummiut have recovered from COVID-19.
All remaining cases of the virus are in hard-hit Arviat.
During Friday’s news conference, Patterson also announced that voluntary rapid testing will be available for those entering and exiting the isolation hubs in Edmonton and Ottawa beginning next week, Dec. 21.
Rapid testing at the hubs in Winnipeg began earlier this month.
Aside from increased testing in isolation hubs, Patterson said that the public health orders in place across the territory will protect against further outbreaks.
This includes restrictions on Christmas activities. Patterson said he has seen some innovative plans, including games held over the radio and window decorating contests judged at a distance from a car or snowmobile.
“There’s creative people in every community that are figuring out ways to have a different celebration but still a Christmas celebration,” he said.
Patterson urged people to keep gatherings small, wash hands frequently and limit unnecessary trips out.
Santa won’t have to self-isolate
To further limit the pandemic’s impact on Christmas festivities in the territory, Savikataaq put in a special request to Patterson asking for a “special someone” to be listed as an exempted critical worker next week.
“’I’m very, very excited to let all young Nunavummiut know that Santa Claus has been approved to come into the territory without having to self-isolate for 14 days,” said Savikataaq.
“This will allow him to continue making toys with the elves and preparing for a very busy Christmas Eve. So please don’t worry, Santa Claus is indeed coming to town.”
Moderna vaccine on its way
Young Nunavummiut aren’t the only ones due for a special delivery in the coming weeks.
Patterson expects that Canada will approve the Moderna vaccine for use in the coming days and that Nunavut should expect to receive doses soon after that.
“As we move into the holidays, we are eagerly awaiting the first shipment of vaccine to come to Nunavut,” he said.
While it’s not yet known when that will be or how many doses are coming, Patterson said the Department of Health has several rollout scenarios planned.
Across Canada, more than 489,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 14,000 deaths have been reported since March, when the pandemic began. Nunavut has reported no deaths so far.