During an April 15 Government of Nunavut (GN) Covid-19 update, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson added more details on the case that was confirmed late the previous night, and later revealed by Canadian North to be one of it’s employees.
As of the night of April 14 the number of possible contacts of the one confirmed case was around 10.
“There were more than 10 people identified last night and contact tracing is continuing on right now, that’s as of 11 o’clock or midnight last night,” said Patterson, adding all identified contacts are in Iqaluit.
They are not certain as to how Covid got into Iqaluit, and the individual was confirmed as an exempted worker.
“We’re not certain how it got into Iqaluit, we do know it has been publicly acknowledged that the individual is an exempted worker, but they were already here for 13 to 14 days when the symptoms started,” said Patterson.
“It’s not certain that they brought Covid into the territory. It increases the chance that this individual actually caught Covid-19 in Iqaluit, so there may be other people who have been infected.”
This has a number of possible implications such as a higher risk of community transmission.
“If there’s risks that community transmission has already occurred when (a case has) been identified, we go straight to our most stringent public health measures and do the work to find out if there’s already been community transmission,” said Patterson, explaining the quick move to lockdown as of 7 a.m. April 15.
He later added that dealing with Covid-19 in a city the size of Iqaluit will be quite different compared to other communities that have seen cases.
“It’s going to be different to other communities, for a variety of reasons, there’s greater potential for more spread, but there’s also greater resources and … easier access to support mechanisms and entering places to isolate. Bottom line is we carry on with our job and stop the transmission as fast as we can,” explained Patterson.
Nunavut’s health minister urged people not to panic or hoard foods and other goods from grocery stores.
“We have planned for this, we are ready for this and we will do everything we can to keep everyone safe and we ask in return that you do not panic. This is not the time to panic,” said Health Minister Lorne Kusugak.
People who have been in close contact with someone who has had tested positive for Covid-19 are recommended to isolate and monitor for symptoms.
“I encourage anyone who believes they’ve been in close contact with a positive individual to immediately isolate and self-monitor for symptoms,” said Patterson. “If you are identified as a contact by public health, please co-operate with the contact tracing protocols.”