The Canadian territory of Nunavut will be blocked as the increase in coronavirus cases threatens vulnerable communities in the Arctic.
The area, whose first documented case was in early November, has since experienced a surge in Covid-19 infections. On Monday, officials announced 26 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the territory, an increase from the three announced last Friday.
“No one is above the rules here. Do not visit. “Don̵
Nunavut’s first confirmed case of Covid-19 was identified on November 6, but that number has increased since public health officials uncovered evidence of community transmission.
Over the weekend, a number of cases were discovered in the Arviat neighborhood with a population of 2,657 people. Officials have also identified coronavirus infections in Rankin Inlet that they believe are linked to the Arviat cluster.
From Wednesday, schools and kindergartens throughout the territory will be closed for two weeks. Restaurants will only be allowed to offer home-cooked meals and bars will close.
There are no confirmed cases of the virus in the capital, Iqaluit, which serves as a major transit center for major cities in the south, such as Winnipeg and Ottawa. Officials also discouraged any travel for the next two weeks.
“Limiting any potential exposure to the virus is our best possible defense in Nunavut,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer.
For most of the pandemic, Nunavut is an exception to the world: no confirmed cases have occurred within its borders.
Strict public health measures, including spending millions to ensure that residents adhere to a mandatory quarantine period before entering the territory, successfully keep the coronavirus in port, even when cases spread rapidly to other parts of the country.
The spread of the territory – covering 808,190 square miles – helped to limit the spread. Many communities are connected by air only, which reduces the frequency of travel.
But small, cohesive communities have also long been a cause for concern. For months, public health experts have long feared that a coronavirus outbreak in the region could have catastrophic consequences for vulnerable residents.
In addition to disproportionately high levels of tuberculosis, Nunavut has long struggled with a lack of public health infrastructure and adequate housing.
“You have populations that are malnourished, living in overcrowded conditions with higher levels of comorbidities – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease and obesity – that will now get the virus,” said Anna Banerjee, director of global and local health. at the University of Toronto’s medical school, told the Guardian last spring.
“Especially in overcrowding, I’m sure this virus will spread quickly.”