Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, is seen outside his office in Iqaluit, on Sept. 30, 2020.

Emma Tranter/The Canadian Press

Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer says capacity to deal with an outbreak of COVID-19 is “stretched,” which is why the government has shut down the territory for two weeks to try to get cases of COVID-19 under control.

The territory reported its first case Nov. 6 and the total has jumped to 70 in less than two weeks.

Dr. Michael Patterson says the Health Department has “some reserve capacity”– but not much.

Story continues below advertisement

“Knowing that we’re close to our limit in terms of capacity right now, that’s the rationale for bringing these orders in place,” Mr. Patterson said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut’s Health Minister, said the federal government has assured him it will step in with “as much help as they can” if needed.

“We don’t want to have to go there, but if there was a need … for the military to come and give us support, that they would be able to go to that extent,” Mr. Kusugak said.

Arviat, a community of about 2,800 people, has 54 of Nunavut’s active cases, eight are in Whale Cove and six are in Rankin Inlet – all along the northwestern coast of Hudson Bay. Two other infections are in Sanikiluaq, the southernmost community in Nunavut.

Mr. Patterson said all the infected individuals are isolating at home and doing well.

He said it’s “too soon to tell” if earlier public-health orders in Arviat have stopped community transmission, nor can he point to any event in particular that contributed to the spread.

The situation is not as bad elsewhere, he added.

Story continues below advertisement

“In other communities, things are more stable. We’re at, or certainly closer to, having it stabilized and contained.”

Mr. Patterson said it’s still not known how exactly the novel coronavirus made it to Nunavut, which had been free of COVID-19 for the first eight months of the pandemic. An investigation continues.

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

“Don’t visit outside your household. Don’t gather or socialize. Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary,” Mr. Savikataaq said.

“This is it, folks. It’s time to take a stand and fight against COVID-19. We need you all to make sacrifices now to protect our communities.”

All schools and non-essential businesses are closed, as are libraries, fitness centres, government offices and personal services.

Story continues below advertisement

Health centres are closed except for emergencies and the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit is not accepting walk-ins.

Gatherings are restricted to five people and are not allowed in homes.

Masks are mandatory in communities with active cases of COVID-19 and are “strongly recommended” in all other places.

Nunavut went into a similar shutdown in March, but restrictions were lifted over the summer because the territory hadn’t had any cases.

There is some in-territory testing in Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit. Mr. Patterson said the machine in Rankin Inlet can handle four tests an hour, while the one in Iqaluit can do eight.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dr. Theresa Tam say COVID-19 is on a runaway rise in most of the country as the seasons for both holidays and colds and flu approach. They say strict public health rules might help but nothing is more important than following those rules and being extra cautious about spreading contagion — especially if people hope to have any sort of gatherings at Christmas. The Canadian Press

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Story continues below advertisement

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies