Schools remain closed as COVID-19 now in more than half of communities in Nunavut


A majority of Nunavut’s 19 communities are continuing to deal with an outbreak of COVID-19 as schools remain closed and officials are calling out for help with human resources.

On Monday, Premier P.J. Akeeagok spoke to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the territory’s needs.

“I noted that Nunavut continues to need help on the human resources front, especially nurses and lab technicians. I also stressed the need to address our housing gap. overcrowding is severely impacting the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” says Akeeagok.

The territory of 40,000 people has been under lockdown since late December after COVID-19 cases spread rapidly across multiple communities.

As of Jan. 11, there are 192 active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut spread over 13 communities.

According to the Nunavut government, five of the eight lab technicians who worked at the hospital in Iqaluit resigned in November and December.

Nunavut’s health officer says the territory has had challenges hiring new ones.

There’s also an outbreak at the Embassy West facility in Ottawa where Nunavummiut often travel to medical or other appointments.

“To date, we’ve had eight residents that have been infected with Covid, however, one of them is now considered recovered, so there’s seven currently,” says Nunavut Health Minister John Main. “We have been monitoring the situation closely. we put in place an additional staff member on-site to assist during this especially stressful period.”

Nunavut’s education minister says students will return to school remotely next week and in person on Jan. 24 – but the chief public health officer will make a final call later this week based on COVID-19 case numbers.

The territory has had 1,028 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. Four people have died.

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.