Nunavummuit who do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 are not being swabbed.
“It is of no use and probably harmful to swab people, who do not have symptoms of infection,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson.
Patterson explained, if an individual without any symptoms is swabbed the test result will “probably” be negative. Then days later, “when symptoms appear people tend to think that since they were tested, they don’t have to worry about COVID-19. And then will spend several days out of isolation spreading the infection,” he said.
People who have been swabbed should stay home until the results are known, Patterson emphasized, adding otherwise they are exposing others to infection.
“If it is COVID-19, you are putting other Nunavummiut’s lives at risk. And even if it is influenza, you are creating fear and panic and extra load on the health care system.”
Those who are sick and/or showing symptoms of coughing or cold, should not go to work, asserted Patterson.
The majority of people tested have returned from international travel within the past two weeks. A fewer number of tests have been done on people, who have remained within the territory or travelled domestically.
Testing has been performed in all three regions of Nunavut. Presently, most samples are being sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg to be tested for COVID-19.
Depending on the community, the results of the swabs are coming back within four to six days. The “biggest” delay is due to the flight schedules, said Patterson.
If and when a result comes back positive, the public will be informed within 24 hours or less, assured Patterson.
As of today, there are no positive cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.
There are swabs available for testing in all communities, said the chief health public officer.
There are seven oxygen ventilators that are immediately available in Nunavut. Anyone, who requires a ventilator, will be started on it and then be transferred south for the Intensive Care Unit, said Patterson.
Premier Joe Savikataaq reminds everyone to wash their hands and practice social distancing.
Since it is a “stressful” and “disruptive” time for everyone, “kindness and patience is important and appreciated now more than ever,” he said.
“Don’t believe everything on social media. There’s lots of rumours going around. But these news conferences will state the facts and what’s currently the conditions in Nunavut,” said Savikataaq.
Press conferences are scheduled daily this week in Iqaluit to bring updates of the COVID-19 situation in Nunavut.
Protective measures against COVID-19
-Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
-Engage in social distancing (avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing)
-Stay home, if you feel sick
-Arrange for a medical assessment with your healthcare centre if you are experiencing
symptoms (fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing)
-Be cautious when visiting elders and those with vulnerable immune systems
-Cough into your elbow