Starting May 7, Nunavummiut who leave voluntarily must pay for their isolation stays
Still one case of COVID-19 in Pond Inlet, says chief public health officer
As of May 7, all Nunavut residents wanting to return to the territory who left voluntarily must pay for their 14-day isolation stays in one of four designated hotels.
“Any Nunavut resident who voluntarily left the territory and wants to return will need to pay for their 14-day isolation stay,” Premier Joe Savikataaq said at a news conference on Friday, May 1.
Since March 23, any Nunavut residents out of the territory who wish to return must complete a 14-day isolation period in one of four designated hotels in Yellowknife, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa.
Up until now, the cost to stay in an isolation hub was fully covered by the Government of Nunavut. As of May 7, that stay will cost $2,100 for one person and $1,050 for each additional family member.
Those fees need to be paid in advance of staying in an isolation hub, Savikataaq said.
“We do not know when Nunavut’s travel restrictions will be loosened, so we cannot advise when isolation will no longer be mandatory. Anyone who chooses to leave Nunavut needs to be mindful of this,” he said.
Medical travellers will not have to pay for their isolation.
“Please remember that we have advised against any non-essential travel outside of the territory since mid-March,” Savikataaq said.
“Despite these recommendations from the chief public health officer, people are still leaving,” he said.
As of April 14, the GN had spent around $2 million on isolation hubs in the south for Nunavut residents returning to the territory.
Savikataaq said more details on the change will be provided soon.
Still one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nunavut
As of May 1, Nunavut has one confirmed case of COVID-19, in Pond Inlet.
Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said the individual who tested positive is isolating and doing well.
“As the team completes additional testing, there is the possibility that more positive cases may be confirmed in the community. This does not necessarily mean there is community transmission and should not be a cause for alarm,” Patterson said.
“What it does mean is the rapid response team is doing their job, which is finding the virus and stopping it from spreading. Containment is key and right now it is our top priority.”
Yesterday, Patterson said around 20 people, all Pond Inlet residents, had been tested in connection with the positive case. Those tests were sent to Iqaluit and then sent to Ontario for secondary testing, which has not come back yet. Patterson said he did not know how many more people have been tested in connection with the Pond Inlet case.
So far, 13 of those tests have come back from the Iqaluit lab, and all have come back negative.
“Moving forward, I would like to remind all Nunavummiut in the strongest possible terms that in every single social interaction, there is a degree of risk, despite the Government of Nunavut’s preventative measures,” Patterson said.
“It is not possible to predict where or when COVID-19 may be detected next. I urge all Nunavummiut to exercise a high degree of caution and to seriously consider these risks before participating in a gathering of any kind.”
Patterson said if it is necessary to participate in a gathering, Nunavummiut should keep track of the people they interact with in case it is needed for contact tracing.
“Health staff cannot get us through this alone. How well we do and where we go from here depends on the actions of every single Nunavummiut. Right now the best way of slowing the spread of COVID-19 continues to be through social distancing and effective hygiene.”
If a new case is confirmed, it will be announced within 24 hours, Patterson said.
Savikataaq also urged Nunavummiut not to speculate about how the person got the virus or the circumstances around how the virus came into the community.
“If you are contributing to misinformation, or trying to place blame, please stop immediately,” he said.
“Not only do we have a community responsibility to keep one another safe with physical distancing and hand-washing and staying home, but we all have a duty to keep each other safe from bullying, rumours and lateral violence.”
Savikataaq said spreading false information and rumours is disrespectful to the health care workers and officials trying to help.
“Nunavummiut, let’s spread truth, good information and facts from the experts,” he said.