When health authorities in Canada’s Arctic territory of Nunavut reported their first case of the coronavirus last week, in the Inuit community of Pond Inlet a hamlet of about 1,600 on the northern tip of Baffin Island, it sent emotional chills across the whole region.
Nunavut’s remoteness makes it difficult to move people and equipment. As well, health-care facilities can easily become overmatched, making it easy for the virus to spread. Authorities and residents feared the worst: Nunavut would be overwhelmed.
Until last week, the territory had managed to evade COVID-19, the only jurisdiction in Canada to do so.
Following last week’s positive test in Pond Inlet, Nunavut dispatched an emergency response team to the hamlet to trace the person’s contacts.
When all the contacts tested negative in the territorial capital, Iqaluit, a request was made to retest the samples of the person thought to be infected.
On Monday, the territory’s chief medical health officer announced the results.
Things are now returning to normal in Pond Inlet.
The rapid response team has left and the community’s two stores are back to business as usual.
“Huge relief,” David Stockley, the hamlet’s chief administrative officer, told The Canadian Press.
“It answered a lot of prayers for a lot of people.”
With files from CBC News (Beth Brown), The Canadian Press (Bob Weber), RCI (Levon Sevunts)