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.
Social distancing –— Premier Joe Savikataaq (@JSavikataaq) March 24, 2020
Do it for you.
Do it for our Elders.
Do it for all of us.
We all need to do our part. Keep your distance. Stay home as much as you can. This is too important to ignore. #FlattenTheCurve pic.twitter.com/3Abn4DMxri
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 of North America is impacted by COVID-19, but in one part of Canada, there is Nunavut... pic.twitter.com/ciX01BPiAe— Spencer Marsden (@spemarx) April 1, 2020
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.
Arctic Ventures in Iqaluit has installed plexiglass shields at its registers to help protect its workers from COVID-19. “For the safety of the community and our hardworking staff we’ve taken safety to the next level!” the store said in a social media post. #Nunavut pic.twitter.com/ShJlIhlQdn— Nunatsiaq News (@NunatsiaqNews) March 31, 2020
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.
Temporary Nunavut-wide school and daycare closures as precaution to COVID-19 https://t.co/Rmfz7Awz1O— Government of Nunavut (@GOVofNUNAVUT) March 16, 2020
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.
Cars line up at Iqaluit’s new drive-thru pick-up for Canada Post parcels at 1057 Mivvik St. The post office has introduced the new service, when weather permits, to help with physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. #Nunavut pic.twitter.com/cF4eChOpb1— Nunatsiaq News (@NunatsiaqNews) April 3, 2020
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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