New COVID-19 case in Iqaluit may be community transmission

Stricter restrictions to take effect at noon Thursday

A COVID-19 case detected in Iqaluit on Wednesday leads public health officials to believe there might be community transmission of the disease in the territorial capital because the infected individual had not been outside of the city in more than a month. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Mélanie Ritchot

Someone in Iqaluit who hasn’t travelled recently has tested positive for COVID-19, leading officials to think the disease was contracted within the city.

The case — Iqaluit’s first in about two weeks — was detected late on Wednesday, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, announced on Thursday.

Patterson said the person had not left Iqaluit for over a month.

“This leads us to believe there may be community transmission in Iqaluit,” he said.

Anyone who has travelled from Iqaluit to another community since Dec. 15  is being asked to call the COVID hotline immediately if they develop symptoms.

Restrictions are tightening at noon on Thursday, with non-essential travel in and out of Iqaluit limited to essential purposes only.

Residents of Iqaluit can come home if they are away, but people who aren’t triple vaccinated are urged to self-isolate for 14 days once they return.

Other restrictions include limiting indoor gatherings in homes to five people plus household guests and indoor public gathering — like in community halls — to 25 people or 25 per cent capacity.

Libraries and galleries are limited to 25 people or 25 capacity.

Gyms are also limited to 25 people or 25 per cent capacity with group classes not allowed.

Arenas have the same restrictions with an additional 25 spectators and no team sports are allowed.

Fifty people can gather in churches and places of worship, or 25 per cent capacity but singing is not allowed.

The movie theatre in Iqaluit and personal services, including hairdressers are closed.

Thursday’s announcement brings the territory’s active case count to three, with two in Pangnirtung.

It is not yet known whether any of the cases are the Omicron variant of the virus and Patterson said this won’t be known for the Iqaluit case for seven to 10 days.

Patterson, Premier P.J. Akeeagok, and Minister of Health John Main are scheduled to give an update on the current situation at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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(24) Comments:

  1. Posted by Frustrated swimmer on

    Why on earth does the pool need to shut down, immediately and again? As a regular swimmer who is double-dose vaccinated and has had the third booster shot, it is beyond comprehension why I, and other swimmers who are vaccinated, cannot use the pool for exercise.

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    • Posted by Entitled Frustration on

      Because there are still unknowns about the Omicron variant and, although early information is suggesting that having your vaccinations and booster are highly helpful in preventing severe illness from the Omicron variant, they are not all that effective at preventing infection and transmission.

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      • Posted by Concerned taxpayer on

        The most recent GN press release is unfortunately typical of how this pandemic has been handled from the beginning. Government acts, expects compliance, but does not offer the reasoning behind much of their actions. Case in point, the fitness centre is permitted to continue to operate with restrictions, yet the pool is closed immediately? Why, may I ask? I have been triply vaccinated, and I believe I – and the citizens of Iqaluit – are owed an explanation why we cannot use the pool with a smaller number of swimmers all of whom have been triply vaccinated. I strongly expect the answer is that those in authority are simply taking the easiest route which is to shut the pool rather than have staff check for vaccination status. I call upon Ms. Elgersma to explain the anomaly in approach. And simply to say Dr. Patterson has decreed it is not a sufficient answer. It bears repeating as well that government particularly owes a duty to account fully for their actions when those actions impair the freedom of responsible citizens to make decisions in their own best interest. Thank you.

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        • Posted by Messages on

          No one can really expect the GN or Patterson to start explaining themselves two years into this. It is every week they take measures that are for optics and unsupported by science while playing fast and loose with the Charter is in the play book.

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        • Posted by NH on

          Come on fella, tone down ‘’I’m double/triple (soon to be quadruple) vaccinated’ stuff. The entire country is almost fully vaccinated and there are more cases than ever before, with the majority of cases among the ‘’vaccinated”. Belly aching over pool rights bc you feel you deserve better treatment than others for your compliance while ignoring the fact that the vaccine you took isn’t working (at least as intended) is myopic at best. There’s bigger questions to ask

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          • Posted by Concerned taxpayer on

            There is indeed a larger issue here. Background: Throughout the pandemic, including before vaccines were available, two people have been permitted to swim in the same lane. Now, the CPHO says “the pool is closed”. No explanation or justification given.
            The larger issue: Dr. Patterson has been given extraordinary power by his employers – the people of Nunavut. In a healthy democratic society, we expect our public officials to be open and transparent in the exercise of these delegated powers. This includes explaining their actions. We deserve no less.

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        • Posted by Recent vacationer on

          So I was recently south. Needed my proof of vaccine to access hotel swimming pools, movie theaters, restaurants, mini golf ect….
          How come everything needs to shut down. Why can’t we use our “vannine passport ” to access these services. Why?

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      • Posted by The point is moot now anywy on

        Well, with the new cases across the territory and the new restrictions, this point of the pool being opened or closed is moot. Stay safe, everyone.

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    • Posted by More Chlorine then used to clean! on

      There is so much chlorine in that pool i dont know how the virus would survive! It will eat a brand new bathing suit in a couple months! There is more chemical in the pool then cleaner used in the gym! It is probably the safest activity in town! Open it up!

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  2. Posted by John K on

    This is just as vague and hamfisted as I would expect.

    Are they going to elaborate on travel restrictions? If I’m stopped from flying out tonight then this will be my last Christmas as Nunavumiut.

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    • Posted by Go ahead, git on

      Awesome, you can move to:
      .
      – Alberta, where the CMO said, “We will see transmission rise to heights we’ve never seen”.
      – BC, just posted a record high 1,528 new cases.
      – Manitoba, recently posted the highest 1-day jump in cases.
      – Ontario, just posted a record high 5,790 cases,
      – Quebec, just posted a record high 9,397 cases,
      – New Brunswick, just posted a record high 237 cases,
      – Nova Scotia, just posted a record high 537 cases,
      – PEI, just posted a record high 35 cases,
      – NL, just posted a record high 100 cases,

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      • Posted by Whole Story on

        It is established that travel restrictions do nothing. This was admitted by many public health professionals when Canada banned travel from South Africa. If Nunavut returns to its isolation mandate it will again have to offer paid accommodations or risk infringing the Charter rights. Worse, they’ll lose more people. Check out the GN job board for all the vacant jobs. The joke is on nunavummuit like you telling people to leave. Let’s see how you do when a few more nurses leave and a few more health centres close down. Half my coworkers have left in the last three months and I can tell you work hasn’t become easier and the morale isn’t great.

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        • Posted by Lose-Lose Situation on

          It is not established that travel restrictions do nothing. What you may be referring to are public health professionals saying that travel restrictions specific to southern Africa would do nothing, because that’s only the place where the variant was identified, it was not the place that the variant was limited to.
          .
          Some travel restrictions are ineffective or less effective than others, for reasons like the one stated above, but evidence shows that travel restrictions can definitely be effective when they are well-implemented.
          .
          The fact that you’re threatening a population with losing healthcare for the very legitimate reason of trying to control a pandemic outbreak in remote communities really shows how dependent we are on OOT workers with no vested interest in the communities they serve, and I know that is the sad reality. So we either implement restrictions which would be in the best interest of the territory and risk a worse outcome, or we take serious risks of community transmission by letting people travel during a massive outbreak of a new variant because some workers are only here for the almighty dollar.

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          • Posted by Lose Win Lose on

            There is no evidence travel bans work. Nunavut had several outbreaks, being at several points one of the highest infection rates per capita, yet it had the hubs in place. The loss of more GN staff due to unexplained restrictions on things like a pool and the refusal by Public Health to explain how this would help at all is completely something that should be expressed as a concern. People like you chalk this up to selfishness and I can’t abide it anymore: explain to me why I should listen, it is my right and entitlement as a taxpayer and voter. I don’t even want to use the pool, I want someone to explain why closing it matters when it didn’t matter before. I suspect it is only for optics.

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  3. Posted by Frodos parka on

    Shutting down singing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some people don’t stay in key at all.

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  4. Posted by media driven on

    Vaccinated still spread the virus. vaccinated still have to wear masks. vaccinated still end up in hospital ( more so then unvaxed in some provinces), People who want natural immunity are being stripped of all social venues. Vaccines dont prevent the illness. 99% of all southern exposure notices are vax-only venues. Masks dont work and harm teeth and lungs… what am i missing here?
    Vax is experimental, long term effects unknown, compliance mandatory or coerced. Positive cases do not reflect hospitalizations. Mental health and drug abuse through the roof in the name of health. My family is unvaxed, had covid, now hopefully immune. not that big of a deal.

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    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      It’s true that vaccinated people are being infected, by the Delta variant, and now more so by the Omicron variant because the virus has mutated. The are/were vaccines are very effective against infection by the original coronavirus, but that’s not where we are at the moment.
      .
      The CEO of Moderna has said that it would be about 3 months before an Omicron specific vaccine could be ready. Your issue shouldn’t be with the vaccines, which are still effective against severe illness and death, or with the government which is trying to keep everyone safe, it should be against the virus.
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      Your numbers are just plain wrong.
      With 86% of the population vaccinated the unvaccinated make up the majority of hospitalized and ICU patients, They also make up the vast majority of people who die from Covid-19.
      .
      As for masks not working and harming teeth and lungs, cite just one peer reviewed study to back up this claim – you can’t because it’s BS.
      .
      Vaccines are not experimental and have now been given to billions of people without any long term issue. If people have any reaction to the vaccines it’s within days, not years.
      .
      Being unvaccinated your own immunity will be less than if you had chosen to get a vaccine. That is fact. It’s called science. Get your medical advice from medical professionals, not from Facebook.

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    • Posted by S on

      Thanks, “media driven”, what you write is correct. The power mongers are always the fear mongers; the two hucksters are one.

      Today, social media, whether in the form of FB, Nunatsiaq News, CNN, BBC or via GOC or GN broadcast email and website declarations, is able to spread its own (mis)information unfettered. Those who talk of science as if it is part of public domain, without fail get their doctrine from one or many forms of social media; the more organized the medium the more harmonized and doctrinaire the message. It’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard rain’s gonna fall.

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    • Posted by anon on

      Do you know what *does* have known harmful long-term effects? Getting COVID. Heart problems, blood pressure problems, trouble concentrating, problems with mobility, etc etc.

      Do you know what else could damage your teeth and lungs? Being intubated.

      mRNA technology for vaccines has been around since 1990. It’s only recently that research has allowed vaccine manufacturing to be able to use it.

      Stop spreading vaccine misinformation. Hundreds of millions of doses have been given and adverse reactions are measures in the hundreds. Masks do not harm your teeth and lungs (if they did why don’t you see medical personnel with dental problems?).

      The utter selfishness of ‘my family had it and we’re fine, we’re not gonna vax’ after two solid years of absolute tragedy is a slap in the face to every health care worker who is burnt out caring for unvaccinated people who could have done the smallest thing to keep themselves and others safe and just didn’t bother.

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      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        Very well said.
        .
        Just to update the number of vaccines given, it’s currently sitting at over 8.8 billion doses given worldwide.
        .
        I think that “media driven” can remove the “experimental” designation from their description of the vaccines. Maybe substitute “proven” as it does keep the majority of the vaccinated out of the hospital, even more out of the ICU, and most importantly out of the morgue.
        .
        At this point, even if you have had Covid-19, there is no excuse not to be fully vaccinated. You not only get vaccinated to protect yourself, you get vaccinated to protect everyone else.

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  5. Posted by Lineup on

    Dec 24 the beer and wine store lineup started an hour it even opened. Hello super spreader

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    • Posted by Mandates on

      Can’t close the beer and wine store,
      CPHO citing one less evil is better then the other. That’s what happens when you let 12 year olds be parents; lack of self control and poor decision making. Now we got adults who can’t deal with their addictions. These same adults refuse any rules or laws, as its the qalluna government trying to control them.

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