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When will restrictions in Nunavut be lifted?

“The nature of these conditions means that it is difficult to assign a specific timeline to reopening but fulfillment of these is necessary to minimize risk to public health and safety,” said Dr. Michael Patterson during a press conference in Iqaluit. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

With still no Covid-19 cases in Nunavut, the question remains when will restrictions be loosened in the territory.

On April 29, Nunavut’s chief public health officer put forth criteria for easing some of the restrictions. The criteria included: no active case of Covid-19 in territory, achieve diagnostic capacity within territory and a significant indication of decreased rates of Covid-19 in the jurisdictions of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and Northwest Territories.

At least two of the three conditions have to be met before gradually lifting any restrictions.

Since Friday, Iqaluit’s GeneXpert testing device for Covid-19 has been validated. This means there is testing capacity presently available in Iqaluit.

However, on Monday, Patterson revealed the testing device in Rankin Inlet still needs to be validated.

“When that’s complete, then we’ll be looking at easing restrictions,” said Patterson, adding he is uncertain when the machine will get validated.

Despite having the testing machines in the territory, test samples will continue to be sent south for further assessment, Patterson emphasized. During Nunavut’s first positive Covid-19 case, which turned out to be a false positive, the samples from contract tracing were first sent to Iqaluit and then to a lab in Ontario for confirmation.

On Friday, Patterson said the first steps for re-opening will probably involve opening up daycares in reduced capacity; opening some service work requiring one to one contact; and allowing larger groups to gather outside.

“I’m hopeful that as early as sometime next week we can begin easing some of the restrictions,” Patterson had said on May 6, “but I don’t want to commit to a definite date until we’ve got the (testing) capacity fixed.”

As of Monday, 285 people are currently under investigation for Covid-19 and 553 have been cleared.