First case of Omicron subvariant BA.2 detected in Iqaluit
Hospitalization tally at 23 since start of Omicron wave
A new mutation of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has made a first appearance in Nunavut, with testing from one case of the virus in Iqaluit showing evidence of the BA.2 subvariant.
“Although this strain spreads more easily than Omicron, it does not appear to be any more likely to cause serious infection,” Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said at a COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
It was the first time he appeared at one of the government’s weekly updates since he went into self-isolation on Feb. 10, following exposure to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. Patterson said then he had tested negative but would be in isolation until Feb. 17 as a precaution.
He said there is no evidence of BA.2, a subvariant of Omicron, spreading in Iqaluit so far.
The number of hospitalized cases of COVID-19 reported since the start of the current wave, which began in December, went from 22 to 23 on Tuesday, but Patterson said he did not know how many people are currently hospitalized.
With Paxlovid, a drug to treat COVID-19 now distributed to all communities, Patterson said those who have been prescribed the medicine have been responding well.
With recoveries being logged on Tuesday, Nunavut’s total case count dropped to 310, with a total of 1,561 recoveries recorded.
Iqaluit has the most cases in the territory, with 85, which Patterson attributed to more travellers coming from the south.
He also said when residents from other communities get COVID-19 while in Iqaluit for medical travel, those cases get added to the capital city’s case count.
Case counts in many communities went down on Tuesday.
In Cambridge Bay, there were three cases, down from 15 on Monday.
There are 21 communities with at least one active case, but the majority of those have fewer than 10 cases.
Here are Nunavut’s 310 cases by community:
- Arctic Bay — 1
- Arviat — 4
- Baker Lake — 5
- Cambridge Bay — 3
- Coral Harbour — 4
- Clyde River — 2
- Gjoa Haven — 10
- Igloolik — 25
- Iqaluit — 85
- Kinngait — 4
- Kugaaruk — 26
- Kugluktuk — 1
- Naujaat — 8
- Pangnirtung — 19
- Pond Inlet — 24
- Qikiqtarjuaq — 3
- Rankin Inlet — 40
- Resolute Bay — 4
- Sanikiluaq — 3
- Sanirajak — 18
- Taloyoak — 21
Patterson has said the daily case count doesn’t reflect the actual COVID-19 situation in the territory as testing and contact tracing are limited.
Premier P.J. Akeeagok announced the Government of Nunavut will be taking a new approach to “living with” COVID-19 in the territory and will follow other jurisdictions in Canada and globally to ease restrictions gradually over the coming weeks.
Patterson, Akeeagok and some territorial ministers are scheduled to give another COVID-19 update on March 1 at 11:00 a.m., which can be streamed on the legislative assembly’s website.