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Stricter travel restrictions begin in Nunavut

The impact of COVID-19 will be the highest in remote communities, says Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson. Inuktitut translator, Naomi Tatty, on the right, sits with Patterson during the six press conference in Iqaluit. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

Despite there being no confirmed cases of COVID-19, stricter travel restrictions are being enforced in the territory. Starting March 24 at 11:59 pm, only residents and critical workers will be able to enter the territory under certain conditions.

All residents of Nunavut, including medical travel patients, will have to undergo a mandatory 14 day isolation period down south.

Individuals will be placed into hotels while carrying out their 14 day self-isolation in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife. They will be given three meals daily. All these expenses will be covered.

Whether through a phone call or a visit, the individuals will be contacted a least once for a check-in by a health professional.

After the 14 day self-isolation period, the individuals will receive a letter stating they are cleared to enter Nunavut. Once arriving in the territory, “they are free to go on about their business,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson.

“This is the only way to ensure that everyone gets 14 days of isolation before they go into some of our more remote communities, where the impact of COVID-19 will be the highest,” said Patterson.

Alternatively, “they can wait it out in the south and come back to Nunavut when appropriate,” said the top doctor.

Critical workers will only need written permission from Nunavut’s chief public health officer to enter into the territory. Those who are asymptomatic will be cleared to work and travel in the territory.

Critical workers from outside of Canada however, will have to self-isolate before coming to Nunavut.

Students from the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions will undergo 14 days of self-isolation in Winnipeg. Students from the Qikiqtani region will remain in Ottawa for the required 14 days of isolation.

The 14 day period of isolation will begin in each facility based on when the last student arrives into the facility. After the 14 day period, a charter from both cities will return the students to the territory.

During the isolation periods students will have access to both tools for completing their studies and a health professional.

All students who desire to return home now need to get to the appropriate city, advised Yvonne Niego, the Deputy Minister of Family Services.

“For travel coverage, usual Student Financial Assistance process would continue,” said Niego.

Alternatively, for students who wish to remain in the south and return home later, “Student Financial Assistance will cover (costs) until the first available arrangements can be made home,” explained Niego.

Travel home for students studying in Nunavut will start on March 24.

Other Updates:

111 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Nunavut. 43 people have cleared self-isolation.

Public gathering are banned, while playgrounds and municipal parks are closed.

GN office buildings are now also closed to public.

Funds for licensed childcare facilities will be processed by March 27, 2020.