On April 16 an additional 12 active cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed in Iqaluit and officials continue to urge people to follow the current public health measures.
“As we head into a beautiful spring weekend, it is important that Iqalummiut don’t visit or have visitors. Wear masks, keep distancing and ensure any gatherings are limited to five people only outside,” said Premier Joe Savikataaq.
With a quickly developing situation in the territorial capital the health minister told people not to play the blame game.
“A lot has changed in the last 24 hours and we are starting to see a lot of rumours and misinformation on social media sites and the rumour mill,” said Health Minister Lorne Kusugak.
“Our government and our territory has been working at this for a year now and we’ve built solid foundations and practices around Covid-19. We have learned from other outbreaks and trends from around the world, so I ask that you listen to what our government is telling you and not the rumours and false information that is so readily available out there.”
The territory’s top doctor also urged residents of Iqaluit to co-operate and work with contact tracing teams.
“By co-operating and doing your part, you can help stop the spread. Quick contact tracing isolates the virus and stops outbreaks,” said Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) Dr. Michael Patterson.
Patterson also declared an outbreak to be officially taking place in Iqaluit.
“We are officially declaring an outbreak of Covid-19 in Iqaluit. It is declared an outbreak as it involves multiple different households and we have not determined the source of infection at this time.”
Anyone who left Iqaluit since April 7 to another community in Nunavut are being asked to isolate for 14 days starting from the day you left the city, those who returned to the city after isolating in a hub do not have to isolate.
“If you have already returned to Iqaluit you do not have to isolate. If you are on medical and have returned to Iqaluit you do not have to isolate,” said Patterson.
“This isolation measure is meant to prevent introduction of Covid-19 to communities outside of Iqaluit. If you know you have been in close contact with someone who has Covid-19, please tell public health and isolate.”
The social distancing measures also apply to anyone going out on the land.
“If you go out on the land you go with your household only, do not go with friends or family, if you see people out, please keep strong physical distancing,” said Savikataaq, also telling people to make an appointment to get vaccinated if you have not done so already.
He also added that Iqaluit’s case count is expected to rise.
“It is up to each one of us to protect our community. I expect Iqaluit’s Covid case count will rise so please don’t panic when you hear the daily numbers.”
Critical worker exemptions not to blame, says Kusugak
Kusugak also added that exemptions for critical workers have been going on for quite some time without any incidents.
“We have gone over a year with the critical worker exemptions in place without a case of Covid-19. Our territory relies on critical and rotational staff from everything to food supply and health care to critical maintenance.”
Kusugak says if there were any mistakes or gaps in the program, they will be identified and dealt with.
He said to treat exempted workers no differently than they would anyone else.
“Don’t put people at risk, please do not treat people differently because of their jobs or circumstances, we are all in this together. No one wants to be sick or see others become sick,” said Kusugak.
Anyone who has reason to believe they have been exposed to Covid-19 is advised to call the Covid-hotline at 1-888-975-8601, or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately isolate at home for 14 days. Please do not go to the health centre in person.