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.
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:
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