TORONTO – Iqaluit is being forced to move patients out of the area as its only hospital grapples with the effects of the water pollution crisis.

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Iqaluit’s state of emergency has been extended by the health department until October 27, following tests of a high concentration of fuel in a tank supplying water to the city last week.

As a result, hospital staff are unable to properly wash hands or sterilize equipment.

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Residents are being advised not to consume tap water for drinking or cooking until further notice – even boiled or filtered tap water is not considered safe to swallow. The city said laundry, cleaning and showering are safe if the water is not ingested.

Iqaluit’s Deputy Mayor Janet Pitsyulak Brewster spoke on Granthshala’s Your Morning on Thursday about the crisis, revealing that she had to take her own mother out of the area for a commonly available diagnostic procedure in Iqaluit. fell.

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“She’s in Ottawa and she’s still in the emergency department, and she’s there alone,” Brewster said. “It’s been difficult.”

Brewster said it is a regular occurrence in Nunavut for people to seek medical care outside the area, but the water crisis and COVID-19 have compounded the problem, Outline in a thread on Twitter That each MedVac could cost more than $40,000.

“So there’s my concern about my mom and my family and then there’s my concern about the cost impact on the regions — it’s huge,” she told Granthshala’s Your Morning.

In its Twitter thread, Brewster forecasts 2,400 MedVacs for 2020 by the Department of Health in Iqaluit in 2019 – compared to about 33,000 planned medical travel visits for this year.

And while Brewster is currently on leave from his position as the health department’s director of travel programs, he outlined what he thinks is happening at Iqaluit’s hospital as the water crisis continues.

“The health care team is likely to triage patients and make decisions on which patients should go out for medical care as we are the first point of medical care outside of communities in the Eastern Arctic,” she said. “I think patients are being diverted or their procedures are getting delayed. We have experienced significant delays due to COVID-19 and the Yellowknife outbreak – our entire region is affected. “

Brewster said COVID-19 is affecting other health issues – underlining in his Twitter thread that the waiting list for children needing dental surgery, which relies on Iqaluit’s hospital, is the only place where general Anesthesia can be given, before COVID-19 was at around 500. hit, but has now doubled to 1,000.

With the state of emergency extended, Brewster said the crisis did not seem to be over.

“The city was expected to flush the pipes by now, but for some reason it is getting delayed and doesn’t really see an end,” he said.

“We have known for years that we are in a water crisis and we need a new source of water, although the pollution is not in our water source, it is in our system … breaking down over many years,” Brewster said. “We need $130 million to fix the whole system and find a new and bigger source of water nearby.”

Despite the twin crises of COVID-19 and water contamination, Brewster says the community in Iqaluit has rallied.

“We have a young lady who has raised funds to bring in pre-mixed infant formula for babies and paid $11,000 in shipping charges,” she said. “There is a huge cost to move all the emergency water and supplies, and with the community volunteering to distribute, the city is clearly doing a great job of distributing water and supplies.”