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With leaders of some other Canadian jurisdictions starting to openly talk about easing Covid-19 restrictions and scaling up their economies, Nunavut’s chief public health officer touched on what factors would make that feasible here.

“I know that people are eager to go back to work, visit loved ones, and engage in social activities. However, if we lift these restrictions too early, we will increase the risk to Nunavummiut,” says Dr. Michael Patterson.
NNSL file photo

During Wednesday’s Government of Nunavut press conference, Dr. Michael Patterson said there are three conditions to be met. The first criterion is being able to introduce rapid and accurate Covid-19 testing in the territory.

The second factor is a reliable indication that Covid-19 cases are falling in southern centres where Nunavummiut travel most often.

The final consideration is that Nunavut must hold the line at zero positive Covid-19 tests. The territory is the only place in the country to maintain such a distinction.

“The nature of these conditions means that it is difficult to assign a specific timeline to reopening, but fulfillment of these conditions is necessary to minimize risk to public health and safety,” Patterson said. “I know that people are eager to go back to work, visit loved ones, and engage in social activities. However, if we lift these restrictions too early, we will increase the risk to Nunavummiut.

“If we aren’t careful about how we transition back from these restrictions, then we could effectively undo all the hard work and sacrifices that we’ve made over the past seven weeks.”

It’s essential to “stay the course,” according to Patterson. That means continuing to wash one’s hands often, stay home whenever possible and maintain social distancing — a minimum of two metres.

“These measures continue to be the best defence against Covid-19, and the best way to protect our families, our communities, and our territory,” he said.

As of Wednesday, 219 people were under investigation for the virus and 361 people were no longer under investigation.

The total number of people under isolation at all of the government’s various isolation centres amounted to 342 as of Tuesday.

 

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Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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