Well, obviously I spoke too soon.
As of last Tuesday, cases were dropping and it appeared Inuvik had staved off potential disaster. But the ink hadn’t even dried on last week’s editorial when it became clear the Town of Inuvik was not yet finished the latest Covid-19 crisis. Initial reports of dwindling cases on Monday and Tuesday quickly morphed into exposure notices for much of the town, including the schools.
In their wake is another round of self-imposed lockdowns, with the Gwich’in Tribal Council keeping its offices closed for a week, Minor Hockey suspending leagues for kids under 12 since they can’t be vaccinated and schools requiring anyone connected with the five classrooms listed as exposures to stay home for the required isolation period. Several children have tested positive for Covid-19.
Over the weekend, we learned the entire East Three Elementary School was exposed, and after a year and change of steady focus on keeping Covid-19 out, the virus breached Tuktoyaktuk’s defences.
All this goes to show how quickly a situation can change, even if we’re being careful. What makes viruses like Covid-19 so deadly is how covert they are — you could be carrying it for several days and not notice, and by the time symptoms show up it could be too late.
Two big takeaways from this — first and foremost we need to be more cautious when it seems like we’re in the clear. Even after this outbreak passes and we’re back to semi-normal gathering sizes again, we all have a responsibility to each other to be mindful of what the organisms and fluids of our body are doing. Masks and social distancing are likely to be a regular part of life for some time, at least until the virus runs out of people to infect. Covid-19 restrictions are a real pain, but as we are seeing first-hand they are favourable to the alternative.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly is the need for compassion for one another. Obviously anyone who has been put into a family emergency by this latest outbreak has grounds to be angry. But singling out and shaming individuals who end up being vectors through no fault of their own will only make things worse. We need to support each other, especially when in isolation. Otherwise people who may be vectors will be too scared to come forward and there won’t be any way to stop spread.
Much of the GNWT’s information hiccups are borne out fear of public backlash towards vectors — that people who know the individuals involved will lash out at them. If it weren’t for this concern, which is unfortunately very grounded in reality, governments would likely be able to get us information faster.
People are only human and mistakes happen even when we’re on our ‘A’ game. Let’s work together as a community and focus on the healing.