It seemed like it was only a matter of time. Up until last week the Kivalliq had been Covid-free since early May. Aside from the limits on indoor gatherings things seemed to be getting back to normal during the summer.
But at the end of August the GN reported that traces of COVID-19 had been found in Rankin’s wastewater. Then on Sept. 3 the health department sent out the news that a positive case had been detected in Rankin Inlet after a symptomatic traveller landed in the community.
It didn’t take long until almost every community in the region blasted notices across Facebook notifying Kivalliqmiut that masks were once again mandatory in stores, offices and hamlet facilities.
Agnico Eagle quickly followed by announcing that Nunavummiut workers would be sent home from the mines.
Considering they only just returned a few months ago, one can only imagine the frustration for both workers and the company.
Alas this is where we are at. More than two years into the pandemic, the thought that we would only need a few weeks of lockdown to “flatten the curve” now feels like a cruel joke.
The good news is that Rankin was quick to rally behind the cause. Before the announcement on last week the number of people wearing masks indoors were few and far between.
As soon as the new case was made public the change into mask-mode was almost immediate. Between stops at the penny sale at the rec hall, the arena and the Northern Store, there wasn’t a maskless person in sight (with the exception of a two young teens who were clearly making a point of being rebels with no cause at all).
The fact that other communities followed suit with mask mandates, shows that in the Kivalliq there is a strong feeling that we’re all in this together.
It may be inconvenient to have to mask up inside but it’s much better than what is currently happening in southern Canada, where cases have continued to skyrocket, leading to more deaths and concerns over a fourth wave.
Last week anti-vaccine protesters swarmed to hospitals of all places to voice their outrage. Their selfishness risked disrupting essential services, and there were tales of cancer patients being harassed as they tried to access the hospitals.
It’s one thing to not want to get the vaccine, as it’s not yet mandatory. But the amount of entitlement and ignorance that people are displaying by putting themselves and others at risk is nothing short of appalling.
You can be anti-vaccine or not. But the numbers don’t lie. Across Canada, the rate of COVID-19 cases are 12 times higher among unvaccinated than vaccinated people. Meanwhile, since vaccines were first rolled out at the end of last year, close to 90 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases across Canada have been among those who are unvaccinated, according to a national public health report.
What is frustrating about this is that new COVID-19 cases that are appearing in Nunavut are all entering the territory from outside.
The OCPHO has done its fair share to make sure that communities aren’t overrun by the virus. Their philosophy that one death is too many may seem over the top to some but judging by the number of people wearing masks since the last case was discovered, it appears that Kivalliqmiut agree.