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Nunavut gets ready for end of public health emergency

On April 6, Nunavut health minister John Main confirmed the Government of Nunavut’s plan to lift the public health emergency on April 11.
Nunavut health minister John Main announced on April 6 the territory’s public health emergency will be ending on April 11. NNSL file photo Nunavut health minister John Main said the GN is still waiting on help from the federal government on the human resources front.

On April 6, Nunavut health minister John Main confirmed the Government of Nunavut’s plan to lift the public health emergency on April 11.

Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson clarified at an April 7 press conference that though the territory-wide state of emergency is being lifted, local states of emergency may be required as monitoring continues to contain outbreaks.

Once the public health emergency is lifted, Covid-19 will be treated like any other infectious disease.

While the mandatory mask mandate will be lifted, it will still be in place at government offices (including health facilities) and private businesses who choose to keep it. The City of Iqaluit also retains mask and vaccine mandates.

“The Government of Nunavut has a responsibility as an employer to protect the health and safety of its employees. Our workplaces and employees will continue to take certain precautions against transmission of the virus,” said Human Resources minister Margaret Nakashuk, during a Covid-19 update on April 7.

The mask mandate will also remain in place in Nunavut’s schools and school buses.

“This is based on the chief public health officer’s recommendation that everyone wear a mask indoors and in shared spaces,” said Education Minister Pamela Gross.

“Covid-19 is not gone,” said Patterson, “I encourage all Nunavummiut to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

“This means staying home when you are sick, wearing a mask when appropriate and avoiding gatherings if you have been exposed to Covid-19. I encourage all Nunavummiut to get their vaccine. Vaccination is our best defense against the virus.”

Patterson also said there will be an annoucement the following week about a fourth dose, or second booster of the Covid-19 vaccine. Nunavummiut are asked to wait to contact health centres about it until the announcement is made.

Other lifted measures include no restrictions on gathering sizes, no restrictions on physical distancing or capacity requirements.

Isolation will no longer be required for Covid-19 positive individuals but is still recommended.

The Government of Nunavut will no longer be reporting Covid-19 vaccine or cases data outside of regular requirements.

Southern isolation hubs will be closed, anyone who comes home sick is recommended to find an alternative means of isolation.

The Covid-19 hotline (1-888-975-8601) will remain in place until further notice. Any questions about Covid-19, including symptoms, testing and advice can be directed here. Do not call health facilities unless it is an emergency. Rapid test kits are available in Nunavut’s Northern/NorthMart stores.

For information on ongoing travel regulations, Nunavummiut are to call the travel hotline at 1-833-524-0735.

As for the Government of Nunavut’s isolation hamper program, it will be in place until the end of May.