Nunavut, Canada clamps down on restrictions, makes mask mandatory as 2 cases reported in Kinngait

The community of Cape Dorset in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
A file photo of Kinngait in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. Masks are now mandatory across the territory. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

Officials are warning that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 across the territory has increased

Two new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Sunday in Kinngait, Nunavut.

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer, said in a news release that contact tracing is underway for the cases, which he said should confirm the source of the infection.

So far, contact tracing has found potential exposure to COVID-19 at Dorset Suites in Kinngait, the release said.

Nunavut’s Department of Health asks anyone who stayed or dined there on or after Sept. 8 to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

New restrictions

With the recent cases of COVID-19 in multiple Nunavut communities and rising COVID-19 case counts in the South, officials are warning that the risk of exposure across the territory has increased.

In response, masks are now mandatory across Nunavut. (CBC is attempting to clarify in what specific settings masks are mandatory.) Anyone who is not fully vaccinated and has left Kinngait on or after Sept. 13 is told to isolate for 14 days. Those who are vaccinated should monitor for symptoms.

Public health measures will be increased in Kinngait to help reduce the risk of community transmission.

Effective immediately:

  • Travel in and out of Kinngait is not recommended.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people.
  • Indoor gatherings in dwellings decrease to 10 people, plus household members.
  • Indoor public gatherings, including places of worship, gyms, fitness centres, libraries, galleries and swimming pools, are restricted to 25 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
  • No public places may allow group tours, group workouts or singing.
  • Gatherings in arenas are restricted to 50 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less. No team sports.
  • Restaurants and licensed establishments are restricted to 25 per cent capacity.
  • Group counselling sessions are limited to 10 people.
  • Parks remain open but buildings are closed.
  • Schools and childcare facilities remain open, but masks are mandatory.
  • Long-term care and elders’ facilities may allow a maximum of two visitors per resident; masks mandatory for all visitors over age of four; only immediate family.
Presumptive Arviat case comes back positive

Patterson also announced that the presumptive positive case of COVID-19 identified by the IDNow Point of Care test,
tested negative at the lab in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

However, since the confirmatory swab was taken toward the end of the infectious period, the release says it isn’t possible to confirm that the rapid test was a false positive.

To rule out “potential hidden transmission” in the community, more testing and investigation is

“Until the work is completed and we can determine the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in Arviat is low, we will maintain the majority of public health measures in place,” the release said.

It also says schools and childcare facilities can open with masks mandatory.

Travel in and out of Arviat is still not recommended at this time. Anyone who left Arviat on or after Sept. 6, and is not fully vaccinated, is asked to isolate for 14 days from when they left Arviat.

Officials also remind residents that vaccine doses are still available across the territory.

Anyone who develops symptoms should isolate immediately and contact the COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify the community health centre right away by telephone. Don’t go to the health centre in person, the release said.

Related stories from around the North: 

CanadaHealth board looking to delay Quebec vaccine passport for Nunavik youth until mid fall, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland announces COVID-19 reopening plan, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland to lift further COVID-19 restrictions September 15, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Ten percent of population on Russia’s Kola Peninsula has been infected with COVID-19, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden extends COVID-19 test recommendations for travellers from abroad, Radio Sweden

CBC News

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