The Nunavut-wide lockdown has been extended to Jan. 17 as Covid-19 cases soared up to 74 on Dec. 29. There have been no identified variants as of yet with regard to these outbreaks and all cases are being treated as the Omicron variant out of precaution.

This will mean schools will remain closed and only critical government services will be available until the lockdown ends.

There have been at least three hospitalizations in Nunavut, said Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Micheal Patterson.

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok raised concerns about the territory’s healthcare system being stretched “to the max” with multiple communities dealing with Covid-19.

“Please make sure to be patient, (healthcare workers) are doing their best to respond in a timely manner,” said Akeeagok. Patterson also urged Nunavummiut to be patient when calling the Covid-19 hotline.

To address this Akeeagok said he has been working on requesting help from the federal government.

“We are approaching a breaking point in terms of our healthcare capacity,” Akeeagok said.

“Our territory urgently needs more housing to allow every family in Nunavut to safely isolate at home.”

The premier highlighted the housing situation in Pangnirtung, which is both dealing with both a Covid-19 and tuberculosis outbreak, the latter announced back in November, as just one example of communities needing more housing.

As of Dec. 29, five communities have been identified as having community transmission, however Dr. Patterson has left open the possibility of additional communities having community transmission as contact tracing efforts continue.

“In a few communities there has been more than one introduction, it appears,” said Patterson.

More Nunavummiut getting vaccinated

Covid-19 spreading into eight communities has seen other side effects, namely more Nunavummiut are getting vaccinated than ever.

“At least two (health centres) used up everything that they had and others have extended their hours to meet that increased demand,” said Dr. Patterson.

“Staff in many communities are putting in incredible hours to meet that increased demand.”

The Government of Nunavut is still currently working on obtaining rapid Covid-19 testing kits for returning travellers.

More details are to be announced in the coming days. Individuals will be asked to test themselves on day six or seven of their returning isolation and again on days 12 or 14 after arriving home.

Anyone who tests positive should call the Covid hotline (1-888-975-8601).

These tests will not be a replacement for isolation.

Regardless of the test result, Patterson and Akeeagok urged Nunavummiut to follow the current public health measures.

“Vaccinated or not, no one should be attending home or public gatherings,” said Patterson.

Due to the amount of people flying into Nunavut from the holidays “we will see additional cases of Covid-19 introduced”.

“If you are sick, please stay home,” said Patterson, emphasising the need for layered protection against Covid-19.

Isolation, mandatory masks, physical distancing, getting tested, vaccinated and staying home “all combine to protect ourselves and our communities from Covid-19.”

At this time anyone who isn’t triple vaccinated is being asked to isolate for two weeks, with the exception of a weekly trip for groceries, to help protect communities from outbreaks.

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