It has been one month since the first case in Iqaluit was detected, and currently the city now has 78 active cases of COVID-19 with the announcement of 12 new cases and eight recoveries on Friday.
There are currently 10 active cases at the Baffin Correctional Centre.
A total of 13,160 Nunavummiut have been fully vaccinated while 16,609 people have recieved their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
There have been 145 recoveries since this outbreak began last month.
One point of ongoing COVID-19 transmission in the capital are gatherings, be it parties, celebrations or meeting up outside without masks.
“Unsafe gatherings continue to spread COVID-19. We are seeing continued exposure to COVID-19, continued spread of the virus and more people having to isolate,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer.
“Through contact tracing we’ve identified gatherings of multiple households resulting in additional cases confirmed in children and three households having to be isolated.”
He added that the more people who have to isolate, the greater the risk is that essential services will be impacted.
As of Friday morning there are 264 people who are in isolation in Iqaluit.
“Isolation also puts additional stress and burden on families in the community. Health staff are working hard to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but this will not be successful without everyone’s co-operation,” said Patterson.
As Iqaluit heads into its fifth weekend of lockdown, Nunavut’s Health Minister Lorne Kusugak urged people to stop partying and to start listening.
“We have to start listening to the rules, start respecting one another and do our turn in helping put a stop to this pandemic,” said Kusugak.
“We have a very short summer and it seems to be getting shorter by the day, if we want to have our usual summer, parties outside, gatherings outside, for everywhere but especially here in Iqaluit it means stopping your gatherings now.”
A number of Iqaluit residents are also refusing to get tested for COVID-19.
“I also ask for co-operation with surveillance testing, we have had many individuals refuse swabs because they are afraid of being isolated or feel it is unnecessary,” said Patterson.
The top doctor explained that surveillance testing doesn’t mean you’ll be isolated, unless you test positive for the virus.
“This is what makes agreeing to surveillance testing so important, if you are asymptomatic and positive for COVID-19, you may be spreading the virus,” he said.
On Sunday, a number of households gathered together to celebrate Mother’s Day, something that saw transmission take place and those households having to isolate.
“Any kind of mixing of households indoors carries some risk of spreading COVID-19, we’ve seen people gathering to celebrate Mother’s Day and bringing three or four households together and contributing to spread,” Patterson said. “Staff are stretched, they’re working really hard to do the contact tracing, maintain notifications and support people in isolation.”
“If people want to come to your house for a party, tell them to go away, come back in a couple weeks. Stay away from going to parties yourselves, don’t hang out with people from outside your household in your household, or in their household. This is pretty simple stuff, this has to stop, don’t go outside without wearing your mask,” said Kusugak.
“We’ve also seen unsafe gatherings outdoors where people are in close proxmity and not wearing masks, safer gatherings between households would be outdoors wearing masks.”
Food insecurity, overcrowded housing and poverty continue to be factors in faster household transmission compared to other juristictions in Canada.
“We do know those conditions are of a much higher frequency in Nunavut than they are compared to the national average, it creates those conditions we’ve seen in Arviat and Iqaluit where COVID-19 spreads very rapidly once it gets introduced,” said Patterson.
People are to call the RCMP to report any violations of public health measures going on, depending on the situation the RCMP will either call Municipal Enforcement or the Sheriffs Office, or show up themselves.
“When we’re looking at a call, triaging a call, similar to a health centre (we look at) what is an emergency basis, if there’s an ongoing large gathering that the RCMP need to deal with immediately versus the appearance of somebody not adhering to isolation requirements or not wearing a mask would be something that bylaw or the sheriffs office or another law enforcement agency would be able to deal with,” said Justice Minister George Hickes.
“We have to remember the officers that take the calls here in Iqaluit take calls for all across the territory when our communications system is working appropriately.”