The pandemic didn’t arrive in the far northern Canadian territory of Nunavut until early this month. On Monday, the premier of the vast but sparsely populated Arctic region imposed a two-week shutdown of most businesses, schools and events after the number of confirmed cases reached 26.
The cases are in three communities, but officials said on Monday that they feared the virus might have already spread to other places in the territory.
“Think of it as a circuit breaker, a chance to reset,” Joe Savikataaq, the premier, said. “No one is above the rules here. Let’s make this clear, so there’s no misunderstanding.”
The limited medical resources in the territory mean that patients requiring sophisticated treatments must be flown south. One person infected in the current outbreak was evacuated to a hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, about 900 miles away. That person has since been released and is recovering.
Contact tracing has yet to establish the source of the first known case in the territory, on Nov. 6. Until then, Nunavut had been the only region in Canada left untouched by the pandemic. Canada, a country of 38 million people, has had a total of about 300,000 coronavirus cases and 11,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.