More than 1,000 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the most recent ongoing outbreak in Nunavut, 684 of which are reported recovered.

Case counts remain the highest in Iglulik with 94 cases as of Feb. 1. Vaccination rates remain low in the community, with only 54 percent of residents five and older fully vaccinated with two doses.

Dr. Michael Patterson, territorial chief public health officer, said that low vaccination rates are contributing to the spread, though “how much is hard to know at this point.”

Health Minister John Main went further, in saying misinformation presented over Iglulik’s local radio stations and over the internet is contributing to its low vaccination rate.

“Misinformation is a part of it. Unfortunately Iglulik appears to be an example of that, based on what I heard from community members. It’s just really sad when you think about it,” said Main.

“I see the vaccine, I see a life jacket, or a seatbelt. Who’s out there telling people not to wear a life jacket? That’s a personal choice, if you choose not to wear a life jacket, (but) when you’re going and telling other people don’t wear a life jacket, don’t wear a life jacket, it’s really sad from where I sit,” he added.

Rapid tests are not a replacement for isolation and they do not shorten the isolation period, repeated Dr. Patterson, who raised the matter in the past.

Those skipping isolation after getting a false negative Covid-19 rapid test are also contributing to the spread of Covid-19.

“Some of the introductions over the past few months have been people who have been exposed in the south, tested themselves with a rapid antigen test. We’ve had others who have been aware of exposure in the territory and tested themselves,” said Patterson. “That obviously contributes to spread.”

There are 462 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 18 communities in across the territory, with one death and 13 hospitalizations in this outbreak thus far. The active infections as of Feb. 2 in each community are:

Kugluktuk: 10

Cambridge Bay: 39

Taloyoak: 24

Baker Lake: 44

Rankin Inlet: 23

Arviat: 21

Whale Cove: 7

Chesterfield Inlet: 2

Coral Harbour: 26

Naujaat: 7

Sanirajak: 7

Sanikiluaq: 32

Pond Inlet: 14

Iglulik: 94

Qikiqtarjuaq: 2

Pangnirtung: 5

Kinngait 21

Iqaluit: 84

One Elder and nine staff members have contracted Covid-19 in Nunavut’s Elders facilities between Cambridge Bay, Arviat, Gjoa Haven and Iglulik. Positive staff members will be in isolation until they are recovered.

There are 45 cases at Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Facility, an increase from 12 cases from last week. Of those cases 30 are from inmates and the other 15 are from staff members, the inmates who tested positive are being isolated in a separate wing, said Nunavut justice minister David Akeeagok.

Public health measures in the territory’s schools continue to be dependent on each community’s Covid-19 situation.

“We continue to monitor the situation of schools and staff and the capacity we have,” said Nunavut Education Minister Pamela Gross.

Gross added schools will be contacting families in the case of closures or decreased capacity.

“Sometimes they go on radio – the (District Educational Authority) or the principal – and announce that right away,” Gross added.

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