SITUATION UPDATE: Nunavut is again free of COVID-19 infection. The patient, who had tested positive last week, did not have COVID-19 after all. A second test plus a repeat with the original material of the first test showed that the first result had been false positive. The head of the regional health authority, Dr. Michael Patterson, told a media conference that the rechecking of the original material had been carried out after no further cases of COVID-19 were detected in any of the people tested. This is unusual for a highly contagious virus such as SARS-CoV-2 and led to the re-screening of the original material. The secondary controls were also all negative. Dr. Patterson apologized to the public and the media for the original misreport. Nunavut Government Chief Joe Savikaataq said that while the news was a relief. However, he said, one must still remain vigilant and observe the measures such as hygiene, distance and staying at home. The enhanced measures against Pond Inlet have been lifted again.
So far, Nunavut had been spared from COVID-19 cases. Both the federal authorities in Ottawa and the regional administration in Iqaluit had taken all possible measures to prevent the virus from settling in the northern region. This is because local health services in the sometimes remote communities in Canada’s largest territory are not equipped to deal with such an epidemic. But now a first suspected COVID-19 has been confirmed in Pond Inlet, in northern Nunavut.
Yesterday Thursday, the head of Nunavut’s health department announced that one person in Pond Inlet had tested positive for the virus. The sick person was already in self-isolation and was well under the circumstances. “We knew it was only a matter of time before our territory would have its first case,” Michael Pattison told the media. “And unfortunately, today is the day. We don’t yet know the circumstances of how the person contracted COVID-19. We realize that this is a scary report.” What is clear is that the person has already been in contact with 20 other people and accordingly they are now also being tested. Contact tracing is intended to find out where the infected person may have contracted the disease.
In order for the 20 identified individuals to be adequately tested, test materials were airlifted to Pond Inlet with a team of experts. Two samples were taken from each person, and each will be tested for the virus in Iqaluit and the province of Ontario. This gives the authorities an independent second opinion. A result is expected on Sunday. The Pond Inlet emergency response team will assist local authorities with next steps and, if necessary, further testing. Pending the results, all activities in Pond Inlet are on hold.
Source: CBC News, Sara Frizzell
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