Relief funds coming, says Nunavut premier as territory reports 4 new cases, 8 recovered

There are currently 151 active cases, all in the Kivalliq region. So far 159 cases of the virus have been confirmed in total. Eight people have recovered.

Premier Joe Savikataaq announced funding plans for food security on Friday

Premier Joe Savikataaq speaks at an update on the government's response to COVID-19 at the Legislative Assembly. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Four new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Arviat, Nunavut on Friday morning, just as government officials gave an update on its response efforts.

The community now has 119 cases.

The territory's active case count is 151, all in the Kivalliq region. In total, 159 cases of the virus have been confirmed. 

Eight people have recovered. And on Thursday, there were no new cases reported.

In the news conference Friday, Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said people confirmed as recovered are safe to come out of isolation, though they still must follow current public health restrictions.

As of Friday, the government is following 765 people for symptoms or contact with COVID-19. 

There's still no evidence of community transmission in Rankin Inlet or Whale Cove, the territory says.

Case increases were last reported on Wednesday, with eight cases in Arviat and three in Whale Cove. 

Don't delay needed medical attention, Patterson urges 

Yesterday a public health emergency was extended until Dec. 10. A territory-wide lockdown is in effect until Wednesday, Dec. 2.  

Reopening measures will be based on the status of cases in territory, of cases in southern jurisdictions and on testing capacity in Nunavut, said Patterson.

After the two week lockdown is over, Patterson said individual communities will be assessed based on risks and case numbers in each region and community for reopening.  

Residents are being asked not to visit their community health centres in person. Health centres are only open for treatment that can't happen over the phone. 

Missed the government update? Watch it here: 

If a nurse has asked someone to visit the health centre, it's because they need medical support, and residents should feel safe to go, he said. 

"Please don't delay necessary medical attention," Patterson said.  

A team of Red Cross workers are coming from outside the territory in the next few days to help Arviat, he added.

The group's focus will be on infection control and to assess critical worker protocols happening on the ground.

These workers will follow all public health guidelines and isolate while off-duty, Patterson said. 

Food security funds coming soon, premier says

This week the federal government committed $19.36 million for COVID-19 rapid response efforts in Nunavut.

That money is being given to the Nunavut government and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated to spend on food security, land programming for social distancing, Internet bandwidth for education and healthcare, non-medical masks and household cleaning supplies. 

Premier Joe Savikataaq said money will flow to municipalities for food security soon. 

He announced spending plans on Friday, saying communities with populations under 1,000 people will receive $20,000, and communities over 1,000 people will receive $45,000. Iqaluit will be given $100,000, and communities with cases will receive additional support he said. 

Because of the second wave, Economic Development minister David Akeeagok said a second round of small business funding is available, where Nunavut businesses can apply for up to $5,000 of new support. 

"Our government will help our local businesses adapt," he said. 

Anyone who may have had contact with COVID-19 is asked to call a COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or to notify their community health centre, and isolate at home for 14 days, the Health department said. 

The news conference will air again later in the day on CBC radio.