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Stay home: the 'best' way to stop COVID-19 outbreak, says top doctor

People line-up outside at Iqaluit’s beer and liquor store on March 20. One hour earlier, the government held their fifth press conference encouraging Nunavummiut to stay home. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

The territory’s top doctor is hammering home the importance of self-isolation.

“I would like every Nunavummiut to think of staying home as medicine,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

“Staying home is our only way or best way to stop this outbreak before it affects the entire territory,” he said with concern.

There are still no cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

On Wednesday with the declaration of the public health emergency, it was announced all travellers, except “essential service” individuals, entering into the territory should immediately begin self-isolation for 14 days.

“If you’re returning from down south, you’re to go home immediately from the airport and self-isolate for two weeks. Do not hug, kiss or shake hands with anymore, even your spouse, even your kids. Do not stop at a store on the way home,” Health Minister George Hickes said sternly, adding “do not leave the house for any reason.”

By adhering to the 14 day self-isolation directive, the community is being protected from the potential spread of COVID-19, explained the minister of health.

“The rule is for people to stay home. That is the order people need to follow,” he asserted.

“We do not want to have to patrol the streets looking for people, who are willfully and knowingly breaking this order.”

Premier Joe Savikataaq also emphasized the importance of the 14 day request to quarantine.

“If we care about our elders, our kids, we will do it and it’s upon everyone to do their duty to limit the spread of the COVID-19,” said the premier.

Savikataaq also discussed the issue of social distancing, specifically addressing elders.

“If you’re an elder take precautions. Don’t go out. Stay at home, have limited visitors,” said the premier, adding the hardest part will be not to touch, hug and kiss the grandkids.

COVID-19 can “easily” be transmitted from grandkids to elders, who have weaker immune systems, explained Savikataaq.

Other Updates

GN is working on options to keep food banks and soup kitchens open.

Several government departments are looking into ways of continuing the school breakfast and lunch programs.

All bars and restaurants will be closed starting today. Restaurants however, are open for take-out and delivery.

Effective today, all Nunavut Arctic College learning centres will be closed.

All research is being suspended at Nunavut Research Institute.

As of Monday March 23, the courthouse in Iqauit will be closed to the public.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms should call 975-9999 or contact the local health centre.