1st confirmed COVID-19 case in Iqaluit, Canada

A file photo of downtown Iqaluit, the capital of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. Nunavut’s chief public health officer said the individual who contracted COVID-19 was an essential worker, who was permitted to skip the two week quarantine before entering the territory, however the person has been in Nunavut for 16 days. (Kyle Muzyka/CBC)
Nunavut officials hold press conference morning after case confirmed

Canadian North has confirmed that one of its employees has tested positive for COVID-19 in Iqaluit. The government of Nunavut reported the first case of the virus in Iqaluit Wednesday night.

The airline says it is assisting public health officials with contact tracing and says its services remain open and safe for the public, as it is following all safety protocols including regular cleaning and mandating mask wearing.

Nunavut’s chief public health officer said the individual was an essential worker, who was permitted to skip the two week quarantine before entering the territory, however the person has been in Nunavut for 16 days.

“Based on the timeframe it’s possible the individual contracted COVID-19 in Iqaluit,” Dr. Michael Patterson said at a news conference Thursday morning. He said Iqaluit’s public health team contract tracing to identify any other positive cases.

The case was confirmed around 8 p.m. Wednesday, after the person became symptomatic earlier this week.

Iqaluit is under Nunavut’s strictest public health measures and communities across the Qikiqtaaluk restrictions have been tightened, as well as in Rankin Inlet.

Vaccine appointments in Iqaluit will continue as scheduled, Patterson said. He asked Iqalummiut not to call and confirm their appointments, so as not to overload the staff.

All non-essential businesses and government offices closed

As a result of the case, all non-essential businesses and government offices were ordered to close this morning in Iqaluit as of 7 a.m. Schools will close for the rest of the week and masks are now mandatory.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board hearings into Baffinland’s Phase 2 expansion at the Mary River Mine, which are taking place in Iqaluit, have also been suspended.

The case is having ripple effects across the territory.

The government is mandating that anyone who left Iqaluit on or after April 13 must immediately isolate in their home community for 14 days when they arrive.

All schools in Baffin communities and in Rankin Inlet will also now move to Stage 2, in which elementary schools will continue at full capacity, and middle and high schools will reduce classes sizes by half.

– With files by Nick Murray

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Arctic Tourism & the Pandemic podcast, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Mysterious coronavirus variant in Arctic Finland is rare US-Mexican strain, Yle News

Denmark/Greenland: Greenland authorities buoyed by high demand for COVID-19 vaccine, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: With tougher border rules appearing to work, Iceland to relax some domestic restrictions, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway extends border closure with Finland due to pandemic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Norway closes borders over fears of virus, but exempts Russian fishermen from severely infected border region, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: COVID-19 strategy darkens Sweden’s image in the Nordics, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska politicians send Trudeau letter saying they’re “shocked” over Canada’s COVID-19 cruise ship ban, Eye on the Arctic

Sara Frizzell, CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

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