As of Feb. 10 the department of economic development and transportation has started the distribution of rapid Covid-19 tests in Iqaluit to critical workers such as retail, emergency/home repair workers, nurses, food producers and airport maintainers. The tests were received from the federal government who will be sending more to be distributed to other Nunavut communities.

Nunavut isn’t in the position right now to hand out rapid tests to the general public, said Nunavut premier P.J. Akeeagok over Zoom.

“Right now our focus is on the critical businesses providing these services,” said Akeeagok.

More than 90 per cent of the cases in Nunavut are of the Omicron variant. The remaining 10 per cent are Delta, the latter of which is being recorded mostly in Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, one of many details to come out of the latest Government of Nunavut Covid-19 update as the briefing went online for the first time during this wave of the pandemic.

Three Nunavut communities have received shipments of the PAXLOVID Covid-19 anti-viral pill, which is intended to treat those who develop mild-to-moderate Covid-19 symptoms.

There are doses of this pill in Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet, with plans to send the anti-viral treatment to other communities as more becomes available. The remedy has already been used to treat Nunavummiut.

“I know that it’s been used at least two or three times but I’m not certain beyond that,” said Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson. The territory has enough doses to treat 100 people at this time.

Changes to contact tracing

Patterson also explained upcoming changes to how Covid infections will be traced.

“Individuals with diagnosed Covid-19 will in many instances will be asked to notify known high-risk contacts and only contacts who develop symptoms will be asked to call the hotline for their assessment or testing,” he said.

High-risk contacts are people you have had contact with closer than two metres for 15 minutes or longer without a mask, anyone who visited or slept at your house two days before you felt unwell, any you worked closely with, anyone you share a vehicle with while not wearing a mask. If you are identified as a high-risk contact, the department of health asks you to isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status.

On Feb. 10, Patterson announced he himself was a high-risk contact and was isolating but maintained he is healthy and has not tested positive.

Three of Nunavut’s correctional facilities have been effected by Covid-19, the new Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Centre has eight active cases and 79 recoveries with clients and staff combined.

“The Rankin Inlet Healing Facility and the Women’s Correctional Facility staff have been impacted with two active cases and two recoveries so far,” said David Akeeagok, Nunavut’s justice minister.

Akeeagok also highlighted to anyone with correctional training that there are openings at Nunavut’s jails.

As of Feb. 15 there have been 352 confirmed active cases of Covid-19 in Nunavut, with 19 hospitalizations and one death.

Of those, Iqaluit remains the highest in with 113 cases, Rankin Inlet, Iglulik and Taloyoak are behind them with 45, 39 and 25 active cases respectively.

READ MORE: Covid-19 public health measures eased in 15 communities

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