New COVID-19 case in Cree community prompts closures in adjoining Nunavik village

Cases confirmed in Whapmagoostui, adjacent to Kuujjuaraapik, as well as in Kuujjuaq

Nunavik’s COVID-19 alert map on Jan. 19 shows Kuujjuaraapik as a red zone. (Image courtesy of NRBHSS)

By Nunatsiaq News

Updated at 5:15 p.m.

Health officials have confirmed a case of COVID-19 in Kuujjuaq, as well as another in the Cree community of Whapmagoostui, which has major implications for Nunavik’s Kuujjuaraapik.

Whapmagoostui and Kuujjuaraapik share the same town site in northern Quebec, but operate as two different municipalities.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services was informed of both cases on Monday, Jan. 18.

The case in Kuujjuaq was an individual who travelled from the south and is now in isolation, the health board said. No additional restrictions were required.

The case in Whapmagoostui, however, prompted the health board to move Kuujjuaraapik into a red alert level as of Tuesday.

That means the community school will close, residents cannot visit outside of their households and only essential services, like the grocery store and clinic, remain open.

Only essential travel to and from the community will be permitted, according to the health board, though residents will be allowed to return home to Kuujjuaraapik.

Nunavik Public Health is now working to identify any Nunavimmiut who may have been in contact with the infected individual.

“Currently, the information suggest that this person acquired the virus in the community,” said Nunavik health board spokesperson Josée Levesque in a Jan. 19 release. “This is an indication that there may be circulation of COVID-19 in the community.”

There are no other known cases of COVID-19 in either Whapmagoostui or Kuujjuarapik. Across the Eeyou Istchee region, where Whapmagoostui is located, there are 58 active cases of the virus. There are currently no active cases in Nunavik.

Nunavimmiut who experience symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, an unusual cough, difficulty breathing or a loss of sense of smell, should contact the COVID-19 health line at 1-888-662-7482 or call their local health centre.

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