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Health minister discourages communities from blocking visits by critical workers who haven’t self-isolated

Can communities prevent visits from individuals who have not self-isolated as worries over a second wave of Covid-19 grow, Baker Lake MLA Craig Simailak asked in the legislative assembly on Thursday.

Health Minister George Hickes strongly discouraged such an approach.

“These are critical workers and they are deemed critical workers for a reason,” Health Minister George Hickes said in a bid to deter communities from preventing visits from out-of-territory workers who haven’t self-isolated first.
NNSL file photo

“The chief public health officer does not have that authority, even if a hamlet would request that type of restriction,” Hickes said. “I would caution any hamlet council or SAOs (senior administrative officers) or any members of the public that are listening right now, I strongly caution them to take advantage of the information that is available. These are critical workers and they are deemed critical workers for a reason. There is a number of different careers that are needed or jobs that are needed occur in our communities that could potentially risk the health of residents, so taking such a tragic uncalled for measure would be very risky.”

Simailak said some residents would like to be advised when workers who have not been through quarantine will be coming into their communities so they can prepare and minimize the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. He asked what arrangements the territorial government has in place to communicate those details.

Hickes replied, “We don’t and do not have any plans of notifying communities when critical workers are coming in; it would be a constant job. There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of critical workers who have travelled into the territory. We all have to remain diligent.”