Capacity 'stretched' as Nunavut dealt with soaring COVID-19 cases: Doctor's best

Grant Boone
November 20, 2020

Schools and non-essential businesses are being closed for two weeks.

Canada's remote Arctic territory of Nunavut is suffering its first community outbreak of COVID-19 and will close all non-essential services, as well as schools, for at least two weeks, officials said on Monday.

Arviat confirmed its first case of COVID-19 just four days ago, while the territory confirmed its first case November 6.

Dr. Michael Patterson says the Health Department has "some reserve capacity"- but not much.

Some health-care workers have also been asked to self-isolate, Patterson said during the news conference.

Another eight cases were identified in Whale Cove, which has a population of about 435 people, and is located about 150 kilometres north of Arviat. Two other infections are in Sanikiluaq, the southernmost community in Nunavut.

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Patterson said all infected individuals are isolated at home and are doing well.

"In Arviat, it's too soon to say if we've stopped community transmission at this point", he said.

He added that the situation is not that bad in other places. A lot of them are in Arviat, the territory's third-biggest community of about 2,500 on the western shore of Hudson Bay. "We're at, or certainly closer to, having it stabilized and contained".

Patterson said it is still not known how the new coronavirus reached Nunavut, which was free of COVID-19 during the first eight months of the pandemic.

Premier Joe Savikataaq urged Nunavummiut to follow public health orders that came into effect Wednesday.

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