The government of Nunavut has effectively managed to keep out COVID-19 to date, says the territory’s sole MP, adding there is continuing concern over the potential impact of the virus, given its ability to spread like wildfire.
Nunavut Health Minister George Hickes declared a public health emergency in response to the pandemic in March, and it has now been extended until April 16.
The territorial government has also restricted access to the territory to residents and critical workers.
The government also says residents must undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period in either Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before boarding a plane to come to Nunavut.
In an interview with The Globe, NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq praised the work of the territorial government and the chief public health officer, adding she is surprised and grateful there are no confirmed cases.
“This has the potential to spread like wildfire and potentially be fatal in quite a few of our communities,” she said.
Many people in the territory faced incredibly challenging conditions prior to the pandemic, she added, pointing to challenges with affordability, health-care capacity, overcrowded housing, infrastructure and access to clean drinking water.
“We’ve been saying the same thing for decades,” she said. “It is an immense amount of pressure for communities that are facing Third-World living conditions in Canada.”
Nunavut chief public health officer Dr. Mike Patterson has said the territory remains on high alert despite the fact there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Dr. Patterson also said the government has extensive plans in place should there be cases in any communities.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is working hard behind the scenes on the increasingly challenging logistics of getting critical COVID-19 medical equipment to Canada from foreign countries.
The Canadian Press
Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe.