Nunavut CPHO says new regulations based on vaccination rates coming soon

·3 min read
Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, says health officials are working on a new plan on how the territory will operate with introductions of COVID-19.  (Jackie McKay/ CBC - image credit)
Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, says health officials are working on a new plan on how the territory will operate with introductions of COVID-19. (Jackie McKay/ CBC - image credit)

Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson says there will be an announcement next week of new rules for COVID-19-affected communities, and an update on the territory's southern-based isolation hubs.

Patterson would not give any details ahead of the announcement on what changes are coming when asked at a COVID-19 press conference Friday.

"We have been following the evidence and it has been increasing over the last couple of weeks that the vaccines not only protect individuals who get it but they do reduce the rate at which spread happens," says Patterson.

Patterson says they will be replacing Nunavut's Path — the document that guides what public health measures should be in place based on a community's individual risk from COVID-19.

The new plan will outline what restrictions are needed if there is a case of COVID-19 depending on the vaccination rate of the territory, Patterson said.

"Once the majority of the population is vaccinated, maybe you need some public health measures to limit spread, but you don't need all of those," said Patterson.

Patterson says the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will make a big difference to lifting restrictions in the territory. He says being able to vaccinate youth 12 and older will increase the amount of eligible people for vaccination to three-quarters of Nunavut's population.

About 28,000 eligible residents could be vaccinated, he says.

"As long as we can get really high uptake in all of those age groups, we are in a really good spot to [be] opening up the same as other jurisdictions," said Patterson.

Mass clinics for the Pfizer vaccine will start in Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet and Clyde River from June 15-17, while Iqaluit will hold its own mass clinic at the Iqaluit Curling Club from June 16-19.

One new COVID-19 case in Iqaluit

In addition, Patterson reported Friday that Iqaluit has one new case of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases to 10.

The new case is a person who lives with someone who has COVID-19.

Patterson said the new case is not a concern.

"Today's case is not a reason to consider changing the public health measures or the plans," said Patterson.

On Thursday public health restrictions eased in Iqaluit allowing for up to five people in a home in addition to household members, and for groups of up to 25 people outside.

Patterson says public health is looking for hidden transmission of the virus in the city. There have been no known new cases of COVID-19 in the last five days, he said.

Mobile COVID-19 testing

Public Health is also conducting a mobile surveillance program, offering voluntary testing to residents out of a van.

"One concern when you reach this stage is people start to get reluctant to get tested because they don't want to be the person who triggers another lockdown," said Patterson.

But Patterson says it is important that people take part in the testing to control a possible spread that could lead back into another lockdown. The van started operating this week and locations will be posted on the government of Nunavut website.

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