No more COVID cases in Nunavut | Polarjournal
The community of Arviat, with a population of approximately 3,000, is located on the northwest shore of Hudson Bay. This was also the centre of the COVID outbreak in Nunavut, with over 80 percent of those infected. One person died as a result of the disease. Image: Ansgar Walk, CC BY-SA 2.5 / Wikimedia Commons

Nunavut had been able to withstand the COVID pandemic for a long time thanks to strict measures and isolation from the rest of Canada. But in early November, the virus did make it to the Arctic North. Within a few days, the numbers of sick people increased. The center of the outbreak was the community of Arviat, where the majority of those infected had been recorded. Now, however, the health authorities have been able to start the year with good news: No active cases have been reported since the weekend.

Of the 266 total COVID cases identified, none are now known to be active, according to authorities. Although some people are still in quarantine. But this has been taken as a preventive measure. Prime Minister Joe Savikataaq announced the good news via Twitter and his son Joe Savikataaq Jr, mayor of Arviat, over the radio, as reported by Nunatsiaq News newspaper. But despite the good news, the Public health emergency will remain in effect until Jan. 7.

In addition to the center of the outbreak, three other locations were affected by COVID. The first case was recorded in early November in Nunavut’s southernmost community, Sanikiluaq. Rapid measures, but also the geographical situation, prevented a spread to the other 22 municipalities. Image: Michael Wenger / Google Earth

Although no more positive cases have been reported, in his tweet the Prime Minister warns against imprudence. “Please remember that no active cases does not mean the outbreak is over,” he writes. He calls on Nunavut residents to comply with public health measures. Currently, 631 people remain under observation out of a total of 5,478 who have been monitored and quarantined since the outbreak began. Of the 266 people who tested positive for the virus, 222 were residents of the community of Arviat, 23 in nearby Whale Cove, 19 in Rankin Inlet and 2 in the small community of Sanikiluaq. A total of 2 people died, with only one currently assigned with certainty to a community, Arviat. A total of 2,282 people were tested for the virus. Preparations for vaccination using the Moderna vaccine are underway.

Nunavut has learned from the rest of Canada. This is because many of the communities do not have the capacity to adequately treat severe cases. These would have to be transported to Winnipeg or Ottawa, where health authorities are already at capacity limits themselves. Image: Government of Nunavut

Fortunately, most of those who got sick did not show severe symptoms. Still, some had to be transferred to Winnipeg hospitals. The only major hospital in the region, in Iqaluit, was too far away for the few cases that required hospitalization. It is still not clear where the virus originally came from. It is generally assumed that it had found its way north from Winnipeg. Currently, besides Nunavut, only the Northwest Territories region reports no known active cases. A total of 6,578 new cases were reported in Canada as of yesterday, January 3. In total since last spring, Canada has reported 601,663 cases and 15,866 deaths. In the entire Arctic, only Svalbard remains without COVID cases.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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