COVID-19 cases in multiple communities lead to Nunavut-wide restrictions

New cases in Sanirajak, Rankin Inlet, Pangnirtung and Iqaluit place restrictions on Christmas Eve

Non-essential trips and gatherings stop across Nunavut this Christmas Eve as cases of COVID-19 were discovered in several communities overnight.

Sanirajak and Rankin Inlet each have a case, Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr Michael Patterson said Friday morning. Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, where COVID-19 was already present, now have three cases each, bringing the total to eight nationwide.

All non-essential travel, especially inter-community travel, is strongly discouraged, Patterson said.

The restrictions for each community in Nunavut include:

  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to five people.
  • No public gathering inside is allowed.
  • Up to five visitors are allowed in a house, but only for essential or emergency services.
  • Libraries, galleries, theaters, fitness centers, swimming pools and arenas are closed.
  • Places of worship are closed.
  • All non-essential businesses and government offices are closed.
  • Bars and licensed establishments are closed.
  • Restaurants can only open for take out.
  • All personal services including chiropractors, massage therapists, beauty salons and hairdressers are closed.
  • In-person group counseling sessions are not permitted.
  • No visitors to long-term care and senior care facilities are allowed.
  • The parks are closed.

Travel to and from Rankin Inlet is limited to essential purposes only, and travel to and from Pangnirtung and Iqaluit is also limited to essential purposes.

Residents of these communities can return home.

Anyone who is not vaccinated three times – two doses of the vaccine and a booster – must self-isolate for 14 days when entering Nunavut.

Schools will remain closed until January 10 or until Patterson says otherwise.

Day care centers can remain open to care for the children of essential workers.

The new restrictions went into effect at noon on Christmas Eve.

“We must act quickly to help trace and contain the epidemic,” he said, calling the approach restrictions a “blackout” to prevent the disease from entering more communities.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health announced that a case of the virus had been detected in a person who had not left Iqaluit for more than a month, leading health officials to believe community transmission was already in play.

“I understand this will make the holiday season more difficult for many, but it is necessary for the health and safety of our communities and loved ones,” Patterson said.

The Government of Nunavut also issued exposure advisories for three flights on Friday:

  • Dec 20 : Flight # 5T101 from Ottawa to Iqaluit, rows 1 to 7
  • Dec 21 : Flight # 5T101 from Ottawa to Iqaluit, rows 10 to 22
  • December 23: Flight # 5T872 from Iqaluit to Sanirajak, rows 1 to 4

Anyone who was in an affected row is urged to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of the theft and to call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-975-8601 to get tested immediately, whether they are vaccinated or not.

Other passengers on flights are advised to self-monitor and get tested if symptoms develop.

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout announced in a written statement Friday that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating herself at her home in Iqaluit.

Nunavummiut workers are also sent home from Agnico Eagle mining operations for three weeks, with 13 cases detected from December 18 to 22.

None of the people with COVID-19 in the mines are Nunavummiut, company spokeswoman Sonja Galton confirmed on Friday.

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