Medical travellers who leave the NWT to receive treatment in another jurisdiction must complete the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period, explains Dr. Michael Patterson, during the press conference in Iqaluit. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

Nunavut’s medical travellers receiving treatment in Yellowknife are no longer required to self-isolate for 14 days, said chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson.

Instead of undergoing the two week self-isolation period, medical travellers are permitted to return to the territory immediately.

This new rule applies “for medical travellers only, and this is only when their treatment is provided completely in Yellowknife,” said Patterson, during the May 21 press conference.

This decision was made after consulting with the Northwest Territories (NWT) and is contingent on there being no active cases of Covid-19 within NWT, explained Patterson.

If a medical traveller leaves the NWT to receive treatment in another Canadian city, then they are required to complete the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period.

Since March 25 all Nunavummiut, except essential workers, have had to undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period to return to the territory. Residents have been isolating at GN designated hotels in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife.

These isolation hubs were created as a measure to decrease the risk of bringing Covid-19 into the territory. As of May 6, about $4 million has been spent by the GN to self-isolate 1,022 Nunavummiut in the south.

In order to lift the mandatory 14-day self-period requirement in other isolation hubs, Patterson explained, there has to be “no or very little” community transmission in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Earlier this week about 44 individuals were quarantined in Yellowknife, according to Patterson. However, the number of medical travellers exempt from isolation under this new rule was not provided.

Presently, a concerted effort has not been made to send medical patients to Yellowknife specifically for medical visits, he said. Medical patients may request a referral to Yellowknife instead of going to other jurisdictions, but that will depend on a number of things, he said.

“For all medical travellers to whom this new rule applies, and who are currently in quarantine, we are working to get you home as soon as possible,” said Patterson.

Testing and Easing Restrictions

Rankin Inlet now has the ability to provide testing for Covid-19, announced Patterson. With an operational GeneXpert device in both Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, the criteria for obtaining reliable and effective in-territory diagnostic capacity has been met, said the chief public health officer.

With testing availability and no Covid-19 cases in Nunavut, the GN is planning to reduce some restrictions in the territory. The goal is to start easing restrictions on June 1, said Patterson.

“We were hoping to unveil our re-opening plan to ease restrictions and measures today, but we are still finalizing some elements to ensure the safety and well-being of Nunavummiut. This needs to be done correctly to ensure our plans will be successful and work in Nunavut, for Nunavummiut,” said Premier Joe Savikataaq.

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