Coronavirus not currently a risk in Nunavik, says regional health board

Preventive measures discussed with Kativik Regional Government

Minnie Grey, executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, updates Kativik Regional Government councillors on the risk of coronavirus and preventive measures. (Photo by Elaine Anselmi)

By Elaine Anselmi

KUUJJUAQ—Nunavimmiut are not currently at risk of coronavirus, but the local health authority is still taking precautions, Minnie Grey, executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, told Kativik Regional Government councillors on Thursday, Feb. 27.

“This started in China, we hear that it’s infectious on the news and that even in Italy we hear it is spreading,” Grey said. “But we want you to know that in Nunavik we are not at risk at the moment.”

For the past couple of months, the highly contagious virus has been in the headlines with cases documented across the world—including a Quebec couple who caught the virus on board a cruise ship.

“Up to now in Nunavik, we are not at risk, that’s what we’ve been told and our doctors and both health centres have made plans in case there is a case of someone infected with that virus,” Grey said.

She said any known cases are reported to Quebec’s ministry of health, and all health centres in the province are kept informed by the ministry.

“Our doctors have a meeting on this daily to see what news is there so we can be updated,” she said.

“We are still concerned about it because it is infectious worldwide.”

To address some of the risk, Grey said any health-care workers who travel out of the country and are at risk of infection are told to stay away from the region for two weeks—the window in which symptoms appear.

Jobie Tukkiapik, regional councillor for Kuujjuaq, asked whether elders and young children are at particular risk from coronavirus.

Grey said these vulnerable people are more susceptible and reminded anyone who could possibly be at risk to avoid crowds and contact with the public.

The coronavirus results in flu-like symptoms with a fever, cough and trouble breathing. It’s transmitted person to person in the air, and is a risk to any person travelling abroad, Grey said.

But it is not known to be carried by other means, such as through international shipments, she said.

“People who are infected are able to go to the health centres,” she said.

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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    How prepared are we in Nunavut? Do our health centers have negative pressure quarantine rooms? Anti virals, enough antibiotics, masks, do health staff have enough training/protection? How many testing kits do we have? It is just a matter of time as we have daily flights coming from the south, medical patients coming from numerous southern hospitals and people from all over the country going to work at our mines every 2 weeks. We have overcrowded homes , seems to me the perfect storm to hit us hard when it comes. Some people are carriers of the virus without showing any external signs and can transmit the virus, so are not getting tested… please let us now how prepared we are instead of downplaying the situation.

  2. Posted by Concerned on

    How could they say we are not at risk, when i know a couple of people that were in Italy a a couple of weeks ago that came back to Nunavik

    • Posted by The fear is worst on

      A few points here: fear is worst than the disease. Off course there are some risk. When you wake up in the morning there’s always a risk, of not waking up the next morning. But , and need I say more? If you were to see some Nunavimuit on social media, it would show you not only the fear, but the major ignorance. Look at your voices on Nunavik. That’s racist, ignorant group of silly postings. It shows it all, just like watching a documentary. Secondly, there are some people going off to the country’s that could bring back anything. We have a few wealthy southerners among us taking vacation with local boyfriend or girlfriend. If we were to get it, surely via those rich souls of travel. Plus Inuit of Nunavik travel too much in the first place. But all in all, enjoy your life, go camping.

    • Posted by All is not well on

      Ignorance is not only bliss, it helps nurture illusions such as ” everything is fine”. This is not reality, the opinions of politicians and the bureaucrats both should not be given so much esteem when it comes to empirical and scientific matters .

      • Posted by Have no fear on

        Not everyone is ignorant enough to listen to politics and it’s leadership. That why most of Canada is not in a panic over this virus. Education plays and pays big here. Bliss the ones who are educated, or at least intelligent enough to know the difference. Fear not, and don’t fear the lord either, he’s not there with the coronavirus.

        • Posted by Be Prepared, it’s coming on

          In reality, though, coronavirus is not only a serious threat it is likely to spread into Nunavik and Nunavut and you are likely to get it.
          When it arrives I expect it will be effectively unstoppable. In fact if you are following its global spread you will see exactly how unstoppable it is.
          People who say that the flu kills more people per year are misguided. Flu’s do kill, but are much more easily contained. This is truly a pandemic on the level that a seasonal flu simply is not.

          I call on the Government’s of Nunavut and Nunavik and Nunatsiaq News to do some serious research on this issue and start sharing real information. Our heads need to come out of the sand right now and we need to start preparing ourselves.

          Read more here:

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    People in Nunavik and Nunavut, along with most NWT and Yukon communities are probably more at risk than people in southern communities.
    The reason why is that the spread of the COVID-19 virus is almost impossible to stop.
    Don’t believe me, tKe a look at the global infection map a month ago, and compare it to today’s map. A month ago China had a problem. This month half of the world has a problem. Next month, the whole world.
    If you have an incubation period of up to 14 days, and some people who are infected and able to spread the virus who show no or few systems, then it is only a matter of time before the virus is worldwide and a real pandemic.
    Given that the virus is likely to become prevalent in the communities it will spread quickly given the over-crowded housing conditions, concentration of food supplies, shopping, and the mobility of the population.
    Imagine just one clerk at the Coop catching the virus and coming to work. How many people would be infected, and how many visitors would take the virus to another community.
    Add in the sad state of Health Services throughout the north and in a very short period of time many people would be sick. Many communities will be overwhelmed as a large share of the population could be sick at the same time. Just getting enough test kits may be a problem for most communities.
    The governments need to get their preparations together real quick.

  4. Posted by Flu on

    I wonder how many from Nunavik die from the flu and from pneumonia.
    I mean every year. People save the flu kills more people every year. Knowledge prevents panic.

    • Posted by Knowledge matters on

      “knowledge prevents panic”? I don’t know about that. To me knowledge is true information about how the world is. It may or may not cause panic.
      In this case consider the following:
      “Overall, per the CDC, the death rate of those who have been infected with the flu this flu season is 0.05%. According to the research conducted by the Chinese CDC, the case-fatality rate of novel coronavirus in China is 2.3%. ”
      Your chances of surviving coronavirus are still extremely good, but your odds of succumbing are also much higher than with the flu.
      Also consider that there are vaccines for influenza, there is currently no such thing for coronavirus. Also consider Old Trapper’s comments above, and they are very insightful, once this virus hits the north this could easily become a hot spot with a much higher fatality rate than elsewhere in the country.

      Source of quote:

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        The Covid 19 virus is even more virulent than you suggest. To date there have been 3,000 deaths and 88,000 infections globally which translates to a mortality rate of 3.5%. Now project those numbers into a community in Nunavut or Nunavik where viral infections will likely hit close to 100% of the population. In Iqaluit that would translate into 271 fatalities while in Kuujjuaq there would be 97 fatalities. The reality is that the virus will already be well placed wthin any population where testing is underway. Surveillance i.e. testing isn’t the answer effectively managing and preventing the virus at it’s entry points is.

  5. Posted by Risk level likely higher in Nunavut and Nunavik on

    There are many factors which lead me to think that the risk and impact of coronavirus on Nunavut and Nunavik may end up being much higher than in the rest of Canada. Here are some of those factors:
    – Overcrowded houses and long time spent indoors in winter
    – High rates of smoking and respiratory issues
    – Many travelers and workers visiting from other parts of Canada
    – Many Nunavummiut and Nunavimmiut travel South, including to get healthcare at hospitals. Montreal has first presumptive case in Quebec, where many Nunavimmiut go for healthcare.
    – Doctor and nurse shortage
    – Remoteness/fly-in nature of communities may make it harder to bring in additional supplies and medical workers

    I hope that all levels of government are aware and are preparing for Nunavut and Nunavik-specific realities which may heighten the risk and impact of coronavirus in those areas.

  6. Posted by Meet and greets on

    Considering the number of meetings that take place in Nunavik communities, surely the virus will spread like wildfire. At any given day, large gatherings in organizations. Any thing that spreads, spreads big in Nunavik. There’s always something going around in the meet and greet groups. Hand shaking alone is enough.

  7. Posted by Annie on

    Assure us with testing kits please? Are we even doing that? We need to be more careful and how are they planning with the would be food shortages? They’re telling us to stock up with food? Send those testers out now!

  8. Posted by Spreading quickly on

    In just one day the number of reported cases in Italy rose to about 1,700 representing an increase of 50%.

  9. Posted by iWonder on

    Dear Nunatsiaq News, it would be great to hear more about the preparations and expectations the GN has for an outbreak of Covid-19. It seems probable that it will arrive in Nunavut at some point.

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