We know that employers and workers in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are concerned about the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Public health officials have currently identified the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in NWT and NU as low. As of March 13, 2020, no one in NWT or NU has developed COVID-19. There are, however, other illnesses such as pertussis (whooping cough) and influenza circulating.
Employers have a responsibility to develop policies and procedures to protect their workers and to keep them informed. Employers should develop or review business continuity or emergency response plans, and prepare proactively for the possibility that COVID-19 could impact their workplace.
In order to prepare, we recommend plans are made to protect the health and safety of workers, limit spread in workplaces, and ensure continuity of critical services if staff are ill or self-isolating.
Stay up to date and keep workers informed: The COVID-19 situation is changing quickly so it is important that all employers stay up to date and keep their workers informed.
The Offices of the Chief Public Health Officers in both Territories are working closely with national partners to protect Northern residents and are providing NWT and NU residents with new information as it becomes available. Importantly, this involves testing individuals who return from travel with symptoms of COVID-19, and monitoring others.
For the most up-to-date information, including public health travel alerts and how to prepare, please see the COVID-19 information at the following websites:
Ensure your employees are paying attention to their own health, and taking the initiative to prevent the spread of any illness in the workplace.
Public health officials are recommending the following actions as a precaution:
- People who have travelled outside the NWT or NU should monitor themselves for symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing for 14 days after their return from travel. If anyone develops symptoms, they should self-isolate and contact their healthcare provider.
- People who have visited Iran, Italy or China in the last 2 weeks should self-isolate for 14 days since their last day in those regions, even if they are feeling well. Self-isolation means staying home and not going to work or social gatherings.
Consider whether or not work travel is required or if any other means of communication could be utilized to conduct meetings during this time.
If a worker is medically advised to self-isolate, employers and workers should work together to explore alternate working arrangements. This could include:
- Working from home or remotely
- Doing work that does not require the employee to contact other people in the community or at work.
If you have questions or concerns about the spread of respiratory viruses in your workplace, contact us today. To see our full list of Safety Bulletins, please visit our website.