Nunavut has reported the territory’s first two coronavirus deaths, the premier confirmed in a press release on Sunday.
“This is a very sad day. On behalf of the Government of Nunavut, we send our thoughts and condolences to the family, communities of Arviat and Rankin Inlet and all Nunavummiut during this difficult time,” said Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq.
“We ask Nunavummiut to stay strong and remain vigilant to limit the spread of the virus.”
Savikataaq explained that the first resident, from Arviat — a primarily Inuit hamlet on the western shore of Hudson’s Bay — was transported south by medivac after he developed complications related to the virus. He died in hospital late Saturday afternoon.
The second death was a Rankin Inlet resident who had contracted the virus in southern Canada. Savikataaq explained that this individual also developed complications from the virus and passed away late Saturday.
“Out of respect for both individuals and their families, we will not be releasing additional information,” Savikataaq said.
Until recently, the northern territory had managed to avoid the spread of the virus that has killed thousands around the globe — drawing international attention from news organizations like the BBC that marvelled at the territory’s ability to dodge the illness.
It wasn’t until Nov. 6 that Nunavut reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case. From there, the virus began to worm its way into communities around the territory. As of Dec. 18, 259 cases had been reported among the territory’s 38,780 residents.
There are currently 34 active cases in the region, according to the Nunavut government, which most recently reported its case count on Friday.