Nearly 1 in 5 of Iqaluit’s COVID-19 cases are youth

23 of the city’s 132 total cases are under 18

Youth under 18 now account for more than 17 per cent of all COVID cases in Iqaluit. Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, says children must follow the same rules as everybody else, including not mixing with people from outside of their household. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

Youth account for almost one out of every five cases of COVID-19 in Iqaluit.

To date in the city, there have been 132 cases of the virus, including recoveries; 23 of those have been under the age of 18.

Last week, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, had confirmed that there had been at least one positive case, but fewer than five, involving residents younger than 18.

Explaining the quick change, Patterson said at a news conference on Tuesday that Iqaluit’s COVID cases initially had spread from adult to adult, at places like essential worksites, but now they’re beginning to see household transmission.

“Essential workers have inadvertently brought it into the home and it’s involving their children,” Patterson said.

When it comes to what youth can do under existing public health orders, “they’re under the same rules as everybody else,” Patterson said. This includes not mixing with people from outside of their household in order to minimize the spread between homes.

Children under two years of age do not need to wear masks, Patterson said. For kids between two and four years old, masks are recommended, but Patterson said he understands that not every child will tolerate a mask.

Children over four should wear a mask when they’re outside of their home, Patterson said.

Tuesday’s announcement came as seven new cases were reported in the capital, where there are now 83 active cases of the virus.

In addition to new cases, three more Iqaluit residents have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the community to 49.

Roughly 20 more variant test results have come back, Patterson said, and all cases continue to be the B117 strain of the virus, known as the U.K. variant.

The number of active cases associated with the COVID-19 outbreak at Baffinland’s Mary River mine increased from nine on Sunday to 12 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in Iqaluit, where Patterson confirmed community transmission of the virus on Friday, contact tracing is ongoing.

To date, 1,533 tests have been conducted in Iqaluit. Patterson said about five of those cases have not been linked to other cases.

Patterson did not provide an update on the resident who was medevaced to a southern hospital last week, but he did confirm that a second person has since been sent south due to COVID-19 related complications.

He also announced four more cases have been confirmed at Baffin Correctional Centre, bringing the facility’s total to eight.

Further testing at the Tammaativvik medical boarding home identified that the positive cases of COVID-19 were confined to staff members, though Patterson did not provide a number.

Medical travellers staying at the home have since been cleared to travel back to their home communities.

Laurel McCorriston, the executive director of the Uquutaq Society, told Nunatsiaq News on Monday that at least one staff member at the low-barrier shelter and one person at the men’s shelter had tested positive for the virus.

Over the weekend, the low-barrier shelter was forced to close due to staffing shortages caused by the ongoing outbreak.

Premier Joe Savikataaq said that discussions to reopen the shelter are ongoing and the government is doing what it can to provide logistical and administrative support. He added that he hopes to provide another update about the shelter on Thursday.

For Iqaluit residents with nowhere else to go or those in overcrowded housing situations, the government has begun to use the Aqsarniit hotel as an alternative isolation site.

“We’re offering it to individuals who have been either diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19,” Patterson said.

“It’s voluntary and they’re going there to reduce the risk of them spreading it to other individuals.”

There are 31 people currently isolating at the hotel, Patterson said, and they are under the same rules and obligations as everybody else who is expected to be isolating.

Patterson reminded residents about the updated rules for exemptions and in-territory isolation, which came into effect yesterday.

Isolation is required for everyone living in the same household of someone who is isolating, including exempted critical workers, anyone who has travelled out of Iqaluit to their home community, or those under an isolation order for exposure to COVID-19.

Essential workers are required to follow the same rules as exempted workers, meaning that they are only permitted to go to work and home and they must wear a mask at all times outside of where they are staying.

Iqaluit has been in lockdown since April 14, after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed.

On Monday, the Arctic Survival Store and several snowmobile repair shops in the city were closed as they were deemed non-essential.

During Tuesday’s news conference Savikataaq apologized for this.

“The closure of these businesses was an oversight, and as soon as we realized they were not exempt, we took steps to fix this,” he said.

Meanwhile, enforcement of public health orders continues to be an issue in the city.

Asked when it would become useful for Nunavut to make a deterrent like fines a bigger part of its COVID response, Patterson said “now.”

“I think there’s been some concerning behaviour that we’re at least considering the option of fines,” he said.

To date, 16,144 Nunavummiut have received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine and 12,568 are now fully vaccinated.

Adults who would like to book a vaccination appointment can call their local health centre.

For updated information and resources on COVID-19, visit the Government of Nunavut’s website.

The government’s next COVID-19 update will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. eastern time.

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(29) Comments:

  1. Posted by Joe Exotic on

    What is the point of begging to get the vaccines first in Canada and then take a long long 4 MONTHS to vaccinate 16000 people. I don’t feel any sense of urgency here. BUT making sure a 4 years old outside his home wear a mask, now that’s urgent…

    • Posted by Children First on

      You’re right.
      Once again, children are paying for their parents mistakes. While adults keep getting their booze and going to their cabins, children and teens are the real losers here. What a shame.

    • Posted by Baffin on

      premier Joe and Dr Patterson the children in NWT are getting the Phizer
      Vaccine this week.
      Time to get Phizier in Nunavut
      For the children of this territory!
      If you were worried about storage but the proper Freezer!
      These Children of Nunavut
      Need to be protected because
      Of the long term complications
      Of another Lung Disease

      • Posted by Nunavut on

        I’ve been finding it very interesting how the NWT have been dealing with Covid, much more testing and quick response and results.
        Better planning and thinking ahead, I’m curious why this is not the case here in Nunavut?
        Where are we going wrong here? NWT has already received Pfizer vaccines for 16-17 year olds, I’m sure they are working to get more for 12-15, where is Nunavut on this? Has the GN even planned ahead?

        • Posted by misc on

          I lived in NWT for years and then moved to Nunavut this year. I work in healthcare. It’s way less organized and I can’t believe hospital is even accredited. They must have won an Oscar, because it’s the dirtiest, most disorganized, and most chaotic hospital I’ve ever seen. People work really hard though.

          NWT gov in general is a lot more organized than Nunavut. But language retention isn’t as good there.

          I don’t have enough knowledge to say why things are the way they are but they are. I think understaffing is a big issue.

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    “Nearly 1 in 5 of Iqaluit’s COVID-19 cases are youth.”
    And this is why it is never a good idea to have schools and day cares open when in the midst of a global pandemic in cities where there are active cases.
    How many people think that children and teenagers don’t get sick from the Covid-19, or can’t catch or transmit the virus? Wrong, wrong, wrong on all counts.
    Kids catch everything, and spread everything.
    I’m disappointed in our federal, and most provincial governments (especially you Dougie Ford as I now live in Ontario). If I could figure out in early March 2020 to wear one of the blue medical masks, and realize that the virus was at minimum an airborne pathogen, why did our federal and provincial governments make such a mess of our response?
    As for the GN, they have done a good job, and Dr. Patterson gives good advice. But now is the time to be very strict. Shut Iqaluit down except for essential services. And shopping is not essential. If necessary have the stores prepare food packages and drop them off at every house. The cost to feed everyone in Iqaluit for two weeks of stay-at-home 24/7 quarantine will be a lot less than all the medical bills.
    Take a look at Nova Scotia’s numbers. They had Covid-19 under control, and over two weeks they had exponential growth;
    20 APR – 9 (new cases)
    21 APR – 25
    22 APR – 38
    23 APR – 44
    24 APR – 52
    25 APR – 63
    26 APR – 66
    27 APR – 96
    28 APR – 75
    29 APR – 70
    30 APR – 67
    01 MAY – 148
    02 MAY – 133
    03 MAY – 146
    04 MAY – 153
    And they have been trying to shut down Halifax where most of the cases are happening.
    People of Iqaluit, you don’t want to become a Halifax, or even worse a Toronto. Stay at home if you can. If you can’t then wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay 2 meters/6 feet away from anyone who is not living in your house.

  3. Posted by Lol snowmobile shops on

    Really essential. What a joke. The government bends health and wellness to peoples recreational sport hobbies. May as well open the gyms too. People out downtown all day no masks, roving bands of teenagers with no masks, no enforcement. Now that people are being put up for free at the new hotel, the homeless will be begging to picked up by bylaw and made to isolate. A year to prepare and utter failure.

    • Posted by angunasukti on

      ummmm, since when is hunting, fishing and harvesting a recreational activity? That is what my snowmachine is used for!

      • Posted by Recreation on

        It is not essential to hunt and fish, it is recreational. There is a lot of over sensitive concerns about Inuit harvesting culture but it is not life and death, it is a choice in 2021. Not one single person in Iqaluit can say that they will die if they cannot go to the snowmobile shop. But instead of science the government bends to this. Ridiculous. It is absolutely telling that it is the Premier and not the good doctor who talks about this. It was not an oversight that these shops were closed by public health, it is politicians getting calls from HTOs and NTI that their members need their machines fixed and their fishing supplies.

        • Posted by Full on

          I think there’s less risk of transmission through hunting and fishing than multiple trips to a crowded grocery store. Even someone working on a skidoo in a shop and parking it outside for a customer to pick up, or picking up some oil at a parts store seems way lower risk than walking into northmart and ventures.

        • Posted by Uninformed on

          Hunting and camping is not essential? It’s part of our culture!!! Thats another thing colonialism is trying to take away from us!!!
          There are still alot of Inuit who prefer to eat traditional food. I know alot of elders that only eat traditional food. Telling them to eat store bought food is just like telling southerners that they have to live off traditional food up here. They won’t do it!

        • Posted by Science vs Nonsense on

          Its no secret that when it comes to political pressure in the form of virtue signalling vs. scientific fact, the political pressures win. Nobody needs to be out hunting in these times, people should be at home. In this case, the HTO and NTI win. Soon, the blood will be on their hands. Just look at how much power the Evangelicals have in the southern US. They are the ones passing the ridiculous measures in congress, while the public health officials get ridiculed.

          • Posted by Uninformed on

            So it’s not essential for the Inuit who live off the land to go hunting? Please tell the people who eat seal meat or fish everyday that you want them to live off store bought food. Just because you don’t live off the land doesn’t mean others don’t. Why do people think its easy just to switch diets? Oh right, colonialism

          • Posted by Cramp on

            Actually, getting out on the land where there’s lots of fresh air and wide open space is a perfect place to spend time for an airborne virus like covid. Hunting and fishing and even just going for a hike pose no risk of transmission and have the added bonus of being good for mental health too.

  4. Posted by Iqaluit on

    Lots of kids playing out today, most with no masks, it’s understandable they want to be outside during this beautiful sunny weather but makes me nervous when there’s so many close together playing without masks on.
    Can’t wait for this to blow over and we can be more back to normal.

  5. Posted by Test on

    Please test the essential workers, where other places do testing it shows it keeps Covid out or have early detection.

  6. Posted by Northener on

    Dep. Of motor vehicles is non essential but fixing your skidoo is. And as for kids with no mask, yes they should be. Or the parents should be out with them making sure they don’t socailize with other unprotected children. People south have isolated there children from the dangers of covid we should be doing the same. Entertain your children for a change instead of letting them run the streets, there not in school for a reason, its not summer break

    • Posted by Priorities on

      Public health shut skidoo down but then premier got complaints from HTO and overruled. No oversight there just backtracking, media should ask Patterson

  7. Posted by Enforcement? on

    I really hope to see the mask rule enforced soon. When will the tickets start to be issued?
    It seems that most people in town seem to think it’s optional. People also don’t seem to understand that kids from other families can’t play together, even if they are outside. Come on, people! Let’s keep our kids safe. Wear masks and stay apart.

    • Posted by Children First on

      Tickets are not the answer. VACCINES are the answer.

      • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

        kids under 16 years old cannot get vaccinated right now and they are a very big part of our Nunavut population. Masking , keeping to your own household and staying 6 feet apart is what is needed. Covid can cause long term effects in a bout 1/3 of the people who get it. Adults get vaccinated and parents keep your children safe.

  8. Posted by Uvanga on

    Why doesn’t public health or the stores provide free masks for anyone that is entering any business, stores, restaurents, etc. Poverty is very high in Iqaluit, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Provide more food for the poor so they don’t have to go house to house hoping to be fed as well. This is not asking for freebies people who are going to say “more freebies” no, it’s called caring for the community members and don’t comment about addictions, if you have not read up about colonization. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    • Posted by anon on

      Ventures and Northmart have both had boxes of masks available for people to take one if they don’t have one when they come to shop.

    • Posted by Hyperbolic on

      Go give a “poor person” 25 bucks and see what they spend it on: most likely a pack of cigarettes. It isn’t about being hungry its about poor decision making. This goes from what they choose to spend their money on to the choices they make during this pandemic.

  9. Posted by Joseph on

    The government shut down some business non essential that’s fine but what about beer and wine store this is the place who in my point of view is the most critical place to catch covid 19 cause all the peoples inuit ,white black anyone who goes there to get the beer or wine don’t follow the rules of 6 feets distance or wearing mask or anything that there are suppose to do if they don’t do something pretty soon we are gone pass arviat and end with not able to control that virus that my point of vue

  10. Posted by Bubba on

    Arviat strong!

  11. Posted by Couch Surfer on

    The GN knows that there are well over 600 homeless people in Iqaluit, most of whom couch-surf. They sleep at one house for a few nights, then move on to another house.
    How many rooms does the made-in-China hotel have? Maybe the GN should purchase a few more of them.

    • Posted by Non-GN on

      The GN has known for a very long time, there are a lot of homeless people that came from other parts of Nunavut living here in Iqaluit.
      Iqaluit is considered a have community by some so any new infrastructure spent for Iqaluit is a political no no. Even if it’s justified and badly needed. Not just infrastructure, look at the vaccine, no way Iqaluit was going to be part of the first rollout even though it’s the busiest hub in Nunavut, it had to be last.

      Also these prefabricated buildings are they way to go, cheaper in the long run, much faster to build and the quality is up there. Only problem is the political will, long time beneficiaries of GN contracts such as Kudlik would be up in arms, they would lose millions in profits from social housing.

  12. Posted by Wonder people on

    Is time to be strict and enforce the rules to prevent COVID. Everyday same old song, vaccinated, mask, social distancing and bad behavior. What is emergency action to stop the spread. if the song keep just singing day by day, Iqaluit isolation hub, hospital and GN medical support as well as Iqalummiut health are all at stake. May God bless all.


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