Skip to content

Too many in Rankin Inlet not taking Covid-19 seriously enough, says emergency services manager

Rankin Inlet is well ahead of the curve at the moment when it comes to preparedness for Covid-19, should it ever invade the community, said the Manager of Protective and Emergency Services.

Rankin Fire Chief Mark Wyatt has Rachel (Princess) Pallulaaq-Kuharski outfitted in bunker gear during Fire Prevention Week activities at Leo Ussak Elementary School in Rankin Inlet on Oct. 10, 2019. These days Wyatt is trying to keep everyone healthy as he plans for the possible arrival of COVID-19 in his position as the manager of Protective and Emergency Services.
photo courtesy Rankin fire department

Mark Wyatt said the community had the advantage of extra time to prepare for Covid-19 due to being so isolated and the combined planning efforts of the fire department, the hamlet, Public Health and the local health centre.

He said the group has been meeting for a month now and implementing plans to deal with the situation should there be a Covid-19 outbreak in Rankin.

We’ve set up a temporary screening centre at the drop-in centre which is not is use yet but quickly will be should the need arise,” said Wyatt.

We have two quarantine sites established at Kivalliq Hall and the executive suites at Nanuk Lodge.

That would give us 36 beds between the two and our arena is designated as an emergency treatment facility, if necessary, so, if things got really bad, we’d be able to set up a temporary field hospital there.

We’ve also recruited a corps of volunteers who we’re beginning to train now to be able to help out in the case of an emergency – so we’re planning pretty well and public health has begun testing a fair number of people, so right now, we’re doing pretty good.”

Wyatt said a lot of people in the community are taking the Covid-19 threat seriously, but there are some who need to start taking it a lot more seriously.

He said the reality of the situation is in a small community like Rankin that’s so overcrowded in the housing department, one single case could end up infecting hundreds if it’s not caught quickly and isolated.

Then we have certain people who have returned from international travel, get in to Nunavut, are supposedly isolating themselves, but they’re having people over and throwing parties.

That’s not the way to do this at all.

Just because you’re staying home, everybody that you bring into your home could potentially go out and start infecting people.

We call people like that super infectors because those are the type of people where one person infects hundreds, like the bartender down south who was a positive case and, in one night, he infected 350 people.”

Wyatt said Covid-19 is one of the most contagious viruses anyone has ever seen.

He said it’s remarkable how quickly the virus spreads when it gains a foothold in a community.

It can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours in some cases, so the protocols of social distancing, staying home and washing your hands and not touching your face are incredibly important.

And, it amazes me that some people in this community just don’t get it.

You still see kids out playing with other kids and, if that virus gets loose they’ll bring it home with them and infect everyone in the household.

Nunavut being the only place in Canada without a single confirmed case is a blessing, but we have to be even more vigilant for the next three or four weeks to ensure nothing gets up here.”