As news of Covid-19 cases skyrocketing in Nunavut, NWT Health Minister Julie Green is urging calm, saying the GNWT is prepared for potential, if not inevitable, outbreaks over the winter.
Green noted the strategy was to contain any outbreaks to the households they’re detected in following a tour of the Beaufort Delta Nov. 17-19.
“I think the shocking thing for all of us is the speed with which Nunavut when from a couple of cases to 60 cases,” she said. “It is a very vivid reminder of how quickly the Covid-19 infection can spread within a community and how careful we need to be to follow the orders of the Chief Public Health Officer so that we can continue as we were with the travel cases and not with community spread.”
Having frequented the Delta in her past life as a CBC reporter, Green is quite familiar with much of the area, but this was her first stop on her tour as Minister of Health.
She said concerns she heard about issues ranged from the current rules around medical escorts, Covid-19 and how enforcement works at the isolation centres and the difficulties people who have to travel regularly for medical procedures were experience by constantly having to be in self-isolation.
How to maintain and improve quality of care for Elders as more of the population ages has also come up, among other public health issues.
“People are looking for options for residents who are recovering from addictions,” she said. “They’re looking at what kind of things can be done in the community, with resources that are at hand like the Gwich’in Healing Camp just south of Inuvik.
“We need to do a bit of a review to figure out the escort policy and whether it needs changing.”
Inuvik’s new Performance Pavilion really stood out to her, noted Green, who met with Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Gwich’in Tribal Council, Town of Inuvik, Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation and the Regional Wellness Council during her trip.
Noting this first trip was mainly a fact-finding mission to determine what the region needed from her department, Green said she planned to return in 2021. In the interim, she said she was glad to have gotten a different view of healthcare in the territory, noting the circumstances in the Delta were very different than the situation in Yellowknife.
She added the ministry’s main focus was ensuring any Covid-19 cases that pop up are isolated as quickly as possible.
“We’re just making sure that our plan is solid to deal with cases coming in,” she said. “We know that is inevitable, most people in the NWT do leisure, work and medical travel to Alberta, so it’s really not an if, it’s a when. So we need to be prepared for that. The plan is to contain the cases to the households in which they appear and not to allow for community spread if at all possible.”