nunavut covid

Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada without any cases of COVID-19

Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada without any cases of COVID-19 — and it isn't just because the territory is too far north for the virus to reach.

With the number of cases of COVID-19 across Canada soaring to over 12,300, Nunavut remains a surprising haven of calm amidst a worldwide pandemic.

Part of the reason? The territory's early aggressive measures.

Nunavut cracked down on travel early on, issuing a territory-wide travel ban effective March 24. Only Nunavut residents and essential workers are allowed into the territory, limiting the spread of the virus from other parts of Canada.

All residents returning to Nunavut must undergo a 14-day quarantine in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa or Yellowknife before entering the territory.

Similarly, the territory swiftly moved to ban public gatherings and temporarily shut-down playgrounds and places of worship.

Nunavut also closed all schools effective March 17. For comparison, British Columbia closed all public schools on the same day, but the province already had 186 cases of COVID-19.

The other major reason for the lack of COVID-19 cases? Nunavut's sparse population.

The territory has just over 39,000 people, with a population density of 0.02 people per square kilometer — making it easier in some ways for people to practice social distancing.

Of course, the geographical dispersion also means that Nunavut's population is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19; its 25 communities are spread across the largest territory or province in Canada, making it difficult to access healthcare.

A report in 2017 found that 60 per cent of Nunavut's citizens smoked on a daily basis, raising the rate of respiratory disease in the province astronomically compared to the rest of Canada.

Nunavut currently only has seven ventilators.

Declaring a state of emergency on March 18, Nunavut's Minister of Health George Hickes warned citizens of the importance of being prepared.

"If we don’t take this measure now before we see cases in Nunavut," Hickes said, "it may be too late."

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