COVID-19 case confirmed in Rankin Inlet
Community reacts swiftly with lockdown while Health Minister urges “calm and caring”
Rankin Inlet quickly went into lockdown mode following the confirmation of a COVID-19 case in the hamlet—the third in Nunavut in less than a week.
Health Minister Lorne Kusugak urged residents of Rankin Inlet to “remain calm and caring” but the impact of the news was felt within hours of the announcement on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
Residents are required to wear masks when outside their homes, only essential services remain open, grocery stores reduced their hours, indoor gatherings were prohibited and outdoor get-togethers have been limited to five people or fewer.
The community reacted swiftly to news of the COVID-19 case:
- Mayor Harry Towtongie announced a community lockdown until further notice. Gas stations and stores will stay open to serve the public, but the mayor called on residents to “stay vigilant, follow the guidelines and most importantly stay home.”
- All three schools are closed for at least 14 days as the district education authority announced it was going into its “Code Red” response. No staff or students will be allowed into the schools, but “learning packages” will be available to students, chairman Mike Osmond said.
- The Kivalliq Campus of Nunavut Arctic College announced on Facebook the closure of its facilities, the suspension of classes and a temporary shift to a remote delivery format, depending on the program. Further updates will be provided when available.
- The Northern Store implemented a limit of 25 people in the main store and five in the C-Store and Quickstop. It encouraged one person per family to shop in the stores. The store will make hand sanitizer available to customers.
- The Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre appealed for people to make masks for distribution to the community. It will buy all the material required to make them.
“Compassion and understanding will help us through this situation,” said Kusugak, who is also the area’s MLA, in a news release.
The person in Rankin Inlet diagnosed with COVID-19 is in isolation and is doing well, said Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s chief public health officer, in the news release. The statement did not identify the person or indicate his or her age or sex.
Residents of the hamlet, which has a population of approximately 3,600 people, have been asked to stay at home as much as possible and to limit contact with people outside their households, in order to prevent the spread of the potentially fatal virus. Kusugak also reminded residents of the importance of social distancing and hand washing.
The Health Department is now discouraging travel to and from Rankin Inlet and recommends that anyone who has travelled to or through Rankin Inlet since Nov. 5 and had a layover of more than four hours to self-monitor for 14 days from the time they left the hamlet.
The positive case does not affect the current common travel area with Churchill, Man., and details about impacts on travel to the Northwest Territories will be announced later, the Health Department said.
The Rankin Inlet case is Nunavut’s third since the global pandemic broke out in March. Two cases have been reported in Sanikiluaq since Friday, Nov. 6.
Across Canada, as of Nov. 10, COVID-19 has resulted in more than 10,632 deaths among the 273,037 reported cases, according to the federal government’s coronavirus website. No deaths have been reported in Nunavut.
Nunavut’s Health Department urges anyone who thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19 to call the hotline at 1-888-975-8601 or notify their community health centre and to immediately isolate themselves at home for 14 days.
The Health Department has scheduled a press conference at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, to provide an update.