Nunavut Closed: First Spike of COVID Strikes
By Yusra Adil
As the very first case of COVID appeared in early November, the predicted yet drastic results of this virus led to a spike leading up to 26 cases last Friday, according to Canadian officials. The Canadian government announced a 2-week lockdown in Nunavut to immediately stop the spread of the cases from reaching the capital and other popular locations such as Iqaluit, which is a stopover and central hub for transit to many provinces and cities such as Ottawa and Winnipeg; Officials have also discouraged any travelling for the next two weeks. Over the weekend a number of cases were discovered in the Hamlet of Arviat, with a population of 2,657 as well as locations in Rankin Inlet. Beginning this week, schools and daycares in all regions will be closed and restaurants will only be permitted to offer takeout services and bars will close.
Premier Joe Savikataaq claims “Nobody is above the rules here. Do not visit. Do not socialize outside your household.”, while addressing reporters and the public outside his office. “Limiting any potential exposure to the virus is our best possible defence in Nunavut,” Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said in a statement.
However, the question still remains, as the rest of the world heals from the disaster of the deadly virus, Nunavut seems to be having their first experience. Why didn’t Nunavut experience COVID-19 with the rest of the world?
Furthermore, officials are extremely worried about the spread of the coronavirus in Nunavut, as the territory may not be able to cope with it well in comparison to other provinces as Nunavut struggles with malnutrition, tuberculosis and other illnesses, as well as the overcrowded nature of Nunavut communities. In addition to disproportionately high rates of tuberculosis, Nunavut has long struggled for public health infrastructure and adequate housing. Populations are malnourished, living in overcrowded conditions with higher levels of comorbidities such as chronic obstructive lung disease, cardiovascular disease and obesity; on top of this, the coronavirus. Public health officials have placed strict public health measures, including spending millions to ensure residents adhere to a mandatory quarantine period prior to entering the territory.
Closely knit communities are the heart of Nunavut; many of the communities are connected only by air, reducing the amount of frequent travel. For months, public health experts long feared a coronavirus outbreak and the region could have disastrous consequences for vulnerable residents. Anna Banerji, director of global and indigenous health at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, warns “Especially with the overcrowding, I’m sure this virus will spread quickly.”.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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