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'We'll be OK as long as we don't panic and we help each other out,' Rankin Inlet mayor says

While everyone in the Kivalliq region was hoping and praying that it would pass by after having been kept it for out so long, the news folks had been dreading finally dropped when it was confirmed first in Rankin Inlet, then in Arviat, then in Whale Cove that people in each community tested positive for Covid-19.

As Tuesday, there were 46 positive cases in Arviat, eight in Whale Cove, and four in Rankin Inlet.

Nunavut's chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said based on the timing of the initial individual's symptoms in Rankin, his department believes the person became infectious around Nov. 5.

He said, as of Nov. 12, the number of contacts were too few to report, but they were expected to grow as time went on, adding all high-risk contacts will be isolated at home. Low-risk contacts will be asked to monitor for symptoms.

“No one knows for sure, but I have a feeling we're going to get through this," says Rankin Inlet Mayor Harry Towtongie.
Photo courtesy Noel Kaludjak

Rankin Inlet Mayor Harry Towtongie said he received a phone call from Health Minister Lorne Kusugak on Remembrance Day morning advising him of the first positive Covid test in Rankin.

He said the hamlet has announced the presence of Covid-19 in every manner possible, and is following every protocol put forward by the health department in dealing with the situation.

We've distributed every mask we could get our hands on to the community and, also, we're starting-up a new food hamper program which should be up and running, hopefully, this week or next, but it's a lot of work,” said Towtongie.

I think we all knew eventually this was going to happen. It was just a question of when. There was just too much going on in Winnipeg, or wherever, and I think we were just lucky for a long time.

We had a lot of people on the planes who hadn't quarantined or self-isolated before they came here. Some of these people just weren't being careful enough, coming into town without wearing a mask and things like that.

I'm no expert but you see all these people coming into town and you don't recognize so many of them, so you can't help but wonder where they came from and what they're doing here.”

Towtongie said the people of Rankin Inlet went into lockdown mode fairly easily this time, without having to be encouraged or constantly reminded to do so.

He said everyone knows what's going on and they have to work together as a community to get past this.

No one knows for sure, but I have a feeling we're going to get through this.

There was a lot of panic and fear for awhile at first, and there was a bit of blame here and there pointed at the airlines and some of the decisions our government made, but you kind of know that's going to happen anyway.

We'll see how it goes after they're done with the contact tracing but I'm hoping we'll have one or two cases and then we're done with it.

We'll be OK as long as we don't panic and we help each other out. I think we'll be alright as long as we don't let panic control this thing.”