COVID-19 travel clinic opens in Montreal for travellers to Inuit region of Arctic Quebec

Travellers to Nunavik must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, done within 96 hours of departure, at the airport or they will not be allowed to board flights to the region. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
A COVID-19 travel clinic, exclusively for people going to Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, opened on Wednesday in Montreal.

Pandemic travel requirements for the region include a mandatory negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to board flights to the region. Anyone who does not have their negative test result at the airport will not be permitted to board the aircraft.

Nunavik has a population of approximately 13,000 people, with 14 communities in the region. All the communities are fly-in only, with Montreal, currently a designated red zone for its high cases of COVID-19,  as the main transit hub. 

A previous protocol had travellers to Nunavik tested at the airport just before taking their flights, but this has been shut down because the results were not always available before the flight left, meaning individuals were being notified of their status after they had already arrived in their home communities.

“The clinic has taken over in order to ensure a negative result BEFORE the person arrives in Nunavik,” the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “This helps to better protect the area from the virus.”

Travellers encouraged to book tests promptly

The NRBHSS says travellers should book an appointment at the clinic as soon as they’ve confirmed their flight details.

The test must be taken within 96 hours of the flight’s departure.

Nunavik Travel Clinic - The nuts and bolts
  • Address: Near the Montreal airport at 819 McCaffrey, Ville Saint-Laurent QC H4T 1N3
  • Contacts for appointment booking:
          • 1-514-341-8888 (Montreal)
          • 1-833-341-3888 (toll-free number)
          • rdv-ntc.nrbhss@ssss.gouv.qc.ca

Travellers are also permitted to go to alternative clinics for tests, as long as they are provided with proof of a negative test results that can be shown at the airport.

People in Montreal on medical travel who are staying at Ullivik, the Dorval residence for Nunavik residents in Montreal for health services, are not required to use the Nunavik travel clinic. They will continue to be monitored by an on-site nurse at Ullivk or the hotel where they are quarantining.

The second COVID-19 test seven days after arrival in a Nunavik community remains in effect.

About 500 travellers arrive in Nunavik each week.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s PM says COVID-19 pandemic amplified housing, connectivity gaps in territories, CBC News

Finland: Finland reinstates border restrictions with Sweden and Estonia due to COVID-19, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland’s new executive order on COVID-19 comes into effect September 30, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland tightens up COVID-19 rules and increases social distancing rule to two metres across the country, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden seeks new powers to limit movement during pandemic, Radio Sweden

United States: After early containment success, there’s now rapid COVID-19 spread in rural Alaska, including the Arctic, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying an culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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