Nunavut relaxes public health measures in 15 communities

Fifteen Nunavut communities will be placed under less restrictive public health measures starting Monday as their number of COVID-19 cases decline.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson announced the changes Tuesday morning during a virtual COVID-19 press conference.

Sanitary measures are relaxed in Arviat, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Clyde River, Gjoa Haven, Grise Fjord, Kimmirut, Kinngait, Kugluktuk, Naujaat, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Sanirajak, Whale Cove and Igloolik.

In all but Igloolik, up to 50 people will be able to gather outside. Indoor gathering restrictions are changing so that 10 people plus household members can gather.

In Igloolik, those numbers are 25 for outdoor gatherings and five for indoor gatherings.

Other changes include increased capacity for restaurants, gymnasiums and other facilities.

Restrictions do not change in Arctic Bay, Cambridge Bay, Coral Harbour, Iqaluit, Kugaaruk, Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet, Resolute Bay, Sanikiluaq and Taloyoak.

Nunavut had 352 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday. Patterson said about 90% of them are the Omicron variant, although Nunavut still sees cases of the Delta variant.

Rapid tests for essential services

Nunavut Premier PJ Akeeagok said the Department of Economic Development and Transportation has begun distributing rapid tests to essential businesses in Iqaluit and other communities. These include taxis, food retail workers and emergency home repair businesses, meat and fish services, cargo operators and airport cleaners.

“Over the next few weeks, as we receive faster access tests from the Government of Canada, we will expand distribution to all businesses that want it,” he said.

Patterson said it was important to maintain those services because outbreaks there would have a greater impact on communities than other services such as schools.

He noted that schools are the next priority after businesses.

Did you miss Tuesday’s update? Watch it here:

Appeal to correctional staff

Justice Minister David Akeeagok said the territory has openings for corrections staff at its facilities. Several facilities currently have cases of COVID-19 affecting staff.

“I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone with correctional training,” he said.

At the Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Center in Iqaluit, he said there are currently eight active cases of COVID-19, seven of which involve staff members.

Akeeagok said there were also two cases among staff at the Rankin Inlet Healing Center and the Women’s Correctional Center.

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