COVID-19 case confirmed in Rankin Inlet

Community reacts swiftly with lockdown while Health Minister urges “calm and caring”

Rankin Inlet residents are encouraged to stay home, following the confirmation of a COVID-19 case in the hamlet on Wednesday, Nov. 11. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

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.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Concerned on

    Health officials, please ask those individuals who are infected. If they travelled home the same day as those were first confirmed. That way, you’ll find out who might’ve travelled with them or who might’ve been in the same bus to Winnipeg airport. For cautious.

  2. Posted by Rick Kelly on

    Friends and co-workers in Rankin… please follow the rules! Stay safe. Know that there are many people praying for the North.

  3. Posted by Concerned Inuk on

    So are you saying, you have contact tracing to do from Nov 5 to date?
    “ 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.” ??

    Tell us please!

  4. Posted by I live in the arctic on

    it was bound to happen, wear masks, wash your hands, keep calm.

  5. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    And now the blame game will start. We have known for 8 months that it could come here and I applaud the GN, The department of health, and the offices of the CPHO for keeping it away this long.

    Just too bad that our residents have had a cavalier attitude about this virus.

    I really hope that people in ALL communities start listening and wear face masks when they go outside their homes and wash your hands often throughout the day.

    • Posted by Old Trapper on

      – A agree with u.
      – Like yourself, I have observed countless examples of flagrant disregard for safety protocols. When I have advised Nunavummiut that this virus is ‘real & to get serious’ they have laughed me off saying ‘we are safe here; no virus here; virus doesn’t circulate in cold; etc’.
      – Covid-19 is surging everywhere in southern Canada & the chances of it coming to Nunavut are more real now than ever before.
      – Stay safe Nunavummiut🙏

    • Posted by Fed up on

      Come on Paul, folks here have a cavalier attitude towards everything. Nobody (except a select few) seem to care about the loss of the Inuit language, ISV, the value of education, child abuse, violence, food security, human rights, racism, sexism, crime, right or wrong and the list goes on and on.

      Correction. Many care about hunting animals because that is more important than people. Also they care about the quality of food in issolation hubs.

  6. Posted by Joseph Kaviok on

    CalmAir must take Precuations,waylay RankinInlet Route ,Stop over Churchill for fuel Stopcontinue on to ddesignated communities.Flights coming from Winnipeg.

  7. Posted by Rob on

    Don’t panic and don’t close the airports. Nobody needs or wants, to be a prisoner.

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Any evidence of community spread and the airport will be closed and all travel restricted.

  8. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Best case scenario this patient is a recent returnee from an isolation hub contact trace and monitor. Worst case scenario the patient never left Rankin this means community spread and a far more serious situation. Time for everyone to get serious: physical distance, wash hands, don’t go to the store or restaurants in big groups don’t gather in big groups. This thing is out there and we have all been far too lazy about protecting ourselves from it.

    • Posted by Kangiq&inirmiutaq on

      It could possibly be an essential worker, they don’t need to isolate.

      We’re in this together, respect and follow every guidelines to prevent the spread.

  9. Posted by TAJ on

    Six days and its just being announced now???How many people have travelled from Rankin to Iqaluit in those six days? Or to other communities?
    I’m not trying to start anything but l really think the gn should name the person, not to start the blame game but only so other people will know if they have came in contact with the person.

    • Posted by Rule on

      The person who is infected cannot be name because of Stigmatization. A person don’t have to be blamed because no one catches a Covid on purpose. We have to work together, that way it won’t spread.

  10. Posted by app for phone on

    please download the covid alert app from the Gouvernment of Canada, this will help everyone

  11. Posted by Old trapper on

    Nov 5 all flights were cancelled in and out of rankin inlet so I no that day is wrong!! Because I was sapost to go home that day give the right date .

  12. Posted by bubbles on

    One day in and someone already feels like they are a prisoner? pffft! Try living it for months then talk to me.

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