In a Government of Nunavut update on Covid-19, chief public health officer (CPHO) for Nunavut Dr. Michael Patterson said that current information regarding the outbreak suggests these latest cases are linked to house-to-house transmission – gatherings inside people’s homes.
He adds that at this time they “haven’t found any evidence” of the current infection coming from outside of Arviat.
However out of an abundance of caution, they are asking people who have travelled to and from the community since Jan. 19 to limit their contacts and self-monitor.
“We also ask these people to contact the health centre in the community they are in to help with contact tracing and monitoring,” said Patterson.
The community is now back in a full lockdown with travel to and from Arviat being restricted. Anyone leaving or entering needs authorization from the CPHO travel office.
All non-essential businesses and government offices are now closed until further notice, schools are also closed.
Visitors to homes are now restricted to emergencies only, with no more than five people from outside the home allowed.
For the time being, restrictions in other Nunavut communities will remain the same.
“However we will be actively monitoring the situation and if we identify increased risk outside of Arviat, (the measures will be adjusted).” said Patterson.
To reduce the risk of spread of the virus to other communities, medical travel from Arviat to Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit is suspended for the time being with Winnipeg being the go-to medical hub both for appointments and med-evacs.
“Appointments that can be done virtually will be, and those patients that require an appointment will be sent to Winnipeg,” said Patterson.
Those from Arviat who are currently in the south may also choose to remain in the hubs for the time being.
Patterson later added that this won’t affect the scheduled second doses of the vaccine set for Feb. 11, 12, 13 and 15, as they are set up to minimize the risks of infection.
“The vaccine clinics were set up, designed from the beginning, to function in a way that would minimize the risk of spreading,” he said.
While they “can’t make the risk zero” Patterson said, they still “can manage the risk well enough that the benefits of getting the second dose into everyone on time will be much greater than the risk of a little further spreading.”
Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said that Nunavummiut must maintain vigilance and awareness when it comes to the virus.
“We cannot become lazy or complacent about Covid-19, stay aware, stay prepared and following the public health measures,” said Savikataaq. “We will beat Covid-19.”