2 COVID-19 cases reported in Pangnirtung 

Restrictions tighten immediately in light of Omicron, but variant not yet known

A former employee with the Hamlet of Pangnirtung alleges the hamlet and Nunavut government failed to investigate reports she was sexually harassed by her boss, who was working at the time as senior administrative officer. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Mélanie Ritchot

New restrictions are in place in Pangnirtung after the Department of Health announced two cases of COVID-19 were detected in the community Monday night.

Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, confirmed the cases on Tuesday.

Confirmation is expected later Tuesday, but it is “highly unlikely” they are false positives, Patterson said in a news release.

The territory was resting at zero cases of the virus until this point after two people with COVID-19 in Iqaluit last week recovered.

“At this time, we do not know which variant this is, but in light of the threat of Omicron, we are tightening public health measures in the community to limit possible spread to other communities,” said Patterson in the news release.

Results about which strain the cases are will be known in about a week.

All travel in and out of the community is limited to essential purposes only, effective immediately.

With these restrictions, schools can still open up again in the new year after the holiday break.

Other restrictions include:

  • Outdoor gatherings are restricted to 50 people.
  • Indoor gatherings in homes are limited to 10 people plus household members.
  • Indoor public gatherings (at the hamlet building, for example) are limited to 25 people or 50 per cent capacity.
  • Churches are limited to 50 people or 25 per cent capacity, with no singing allowed.
  • Arena attendance is limited to 50 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less, plus 50 spectators.
  • Restaurants are limited to 25 per cent capacity.
  • Group counselling sessions are limited to 10 people.
  • Parks can stay open with on-site buildings closed.

The vaccination rate in Pangnirtung is about 74 per cent of those over 12 years old, according to the Government of Nunavut’s most recent statistics, updated on Dec. 14.

Vaccines are currently available to all Nunavummiut over fives years old and booster shots are available for people 12 and older by appointment.

The GN is asking anyone who develops symptoms of the virus to call the COVID hotline or notify the local health centre by phone, and to not go in person.

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