The Nunavik won his first battle against the coronavirus

Le Nunavik remporte sa première bataille contre le coronavirus

Photo: Catherine Hours, Agence France-Presse
The Nunavik has not waited for his first case of COVID-19 to begin the development of its action plan.

Of the 16 cases positive for… no event active. In just five weeks, the North has won his first battle against the coronavirus, while preparing for a possible second wave. But what explains its success ?

Hard to put a finger on a particular item, believes Marie Rochette, director of the nunavik regional board of health and social services (NRBHSS). “It is a series of measures and restrictions, to avoid that several cases did not arrive in the region at the same time, that have simply shown their effectiveness “, she argues.

The first thing that has helped to avoid ” outbreak “, and that is a happy coincidence, is the fact that the cases arrived earlier isolated in the villages — only Salluit (1), Puvirnituq (14) and Inukjuak (1) have housed sick people.

The investigations to find those who have been in contact with those infected have been particularly rapid and effective, adds Ms. Rochette. “The same process is done everywhere, but it is certain that[in the North], since it has a smaller number of cases, it allows you to intervene more quickly. “

The first positive diagnosis was received on 28 march by a woman who returned to Salluit after being made in a Montreal hospital. The second case, to Puvirnituq this time, concerned a person who was also from Montreal. His relatives, living in the same house as her, have also contracted the disease, but the spread has not extended beyond. Since 5 may, no trace of COVID-19 persists in the North.

To communicate, the key

For Andy Moorhouse, executive director of the Inuulitsivik health Centre in Puvirnituq, if the situation has not degenerated, it is because the communication has been exemplary, both on the side of the authorities of the health of the various mayors of the villages.

“We multiplied the radio messages and made an incredible number of posts on the social media on a daily basis. In Puvirnituq, the mayor went every day to the radio to repeat his message and ensure it is understood. It has been the key. “

The elders, who keep in memory the previous epidemics that have ravaged the North, also went to talk about what they experienced on the radio. “Some have told of how they had lost members of their families and how it has been difficult. It was intense and very emotional, but it has helped open eyes to the importance of taking precautions, ” he said. Especially for the younger generations.


This is the number of cases of COVID-19 identified in Nunavik since the beginning of the pandemic.

Even if the inuit population is very young and there are very few types of residences CHSLD in the North, it is difficult to conclude that it is for this reason that the virus has not spread as much, said Marie Rochette. “If a health care worker in a home for seniors had been infected and he had spread the virus in this house, we would have had a very different picture. “

Among the 16 people infected, there were in all age groups, she says.

Closure of the North

It must be said that Nunavik has not waited for his first case of COVID-19 to begin the development of its action plan. After the closure of schools, daycares and public places, travel to and from the North, were quickly forbidden, except for the transport of food and other goods deemed essential. A curfew has been imposed, and restrictions on the sale of alcohol have been put in place.

But, according to Mr. Moorhouse, this is only the second confirmed case in the area has become aware of the importance of observing quarantines, strict and prevent any movement between villages and to the North and the South.

“People have understood that they could not visit their family or friends as they did. It has awakened the people and they started to take more precautions, ” he said. This is how it was able to contain the spread within the family. “

A member of a crisis committee, including the Kativik regional government, the national Office d’habitation Kativik (KMHB), for its part, placed at the disposal of the authorities of vacancies which have been quickly renovated and fully equipped.

“We made available to the health authority so that they can be used to put infected people into quarantine, or of workers in essential isolation “, explained Marie-Christine Vanier, manager of communications for the KMHB.

A situation taken seriously

Wise-women in Puvirnituq, Laurie Morvan-Houle, who was in the North at the beginning of the confinement, found that the Inuit people have seemed to take the epidemic seriously from the beginning.

“I’m really impressed with how everyone has set of his own,” she said. “Both health professionals and the population, while the world was taking it seriously. We knew that there was a risk that it will spread quickly here. “

Even that fear has invaded a certain part of the population, including some pregnant women who are suddenly shown to be reluctant to go to their appointment and follow-up of pregnancy. “For them, the virus came from the South. And even our colleagues, the midwives were afraid of coming to work, ” explains Ms. Morvan-Swell. This fear of going to the health facilities has even done in such a way that two risk births took place of emergency in the villages and not in Puvirnituq, as expected.

At the hospital in Puvirnituq, the nursing staff seemed to be unusually well prepared. “The physicians and staff met several times per day. They were doing practice to learn what to do if a person comes in with symptoms, if it needs to be intubated. They were looking at where to go, how to dress, in which case we would transfer the patient to Montreal… All the scenarios have been studied, ” says Ms. Morvan-Swell.

All spaces should be reorganized, and maternity has been moved outside of the hospital, confirms the director-general of the Inuulitsivik health Centre. “You had to install hot spots for the case of COVID-19 “, said Andy Moorhouse, indicating that a single infected person, who was, however, well, has been hospitalized for “precautionary” because of his age. “We had to create walls where there were not. “

The risk of déconfinement

Since 21 April, no new cases have been diagnosed. But while the authorities are considering the déconfinement, the health network does not lower his guard. “The fact of no longer having a case that people are not as alert, but the challenge remains for all the world. It is necessary to continue to think of the COVID-19, ” insists Marie Rochette, the NRBHSS.

Already, working groups are at work to plan the déconfinement. The curfew has been somewhat released and some travel may be authorized.

“From the moment we are going to allow the raising and that we will allow travel between the communities or from the South, there is a risk of still having of the case,” acknowledges Ms. Rochette. There would be negative effects not déconfiner, she believes, particularly among children or for the construction of social housing, the workers mainly come from the South.

“It must be a balance between the risks of get the COVID-19, and the negative impacts of being too long confined. “


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