Nunatsiavut Government discourages travel to Labrador Inuit communities

“Pandemics have had catastrophic impacts in Nunatsiavut in the past”

A view of Nain from Mount Sophie. Nain is the Nunatsiavut Government’s administrative centre. (Creative Commons photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Unless it’s “absolutely necessary,” people should not travel to or between any Labrador Inuit communities until further notice, says the Nunatsiavut Government.

That travel advice, issued in a statement on Thursday, March 19, applies to all modes of transportation, including aircraft or snowmobile, into or between the communities of Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet.

“Pandemics have had catastrophic impacts in Nunatsiavut in the past, and all efforts must be taken to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus to all Labrador Inuit communities,” the statement said.

In 2016, the per capita rate of tuberculosis infection within the Nunatsiavut settlement area was higher than in any other Inuit region of Canada, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami tuberculosis elimination framework document says.

And in 1918, the global Spanish flu epidemic killed about one-third of the Inuit population of Labrador.

The advisory also says that from now on any person who arrives at a Nunatsiavut community should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days.

Other steps taken by the Nunatsiavut Government are the following:

• Restricting non-essential travel for all its employees.

• Cancellation of all Nunatsiavut Government-sponsored events, meetings and workshops that involve participants from multiple Labrador Inuit communities.

• Closing all Nunatsiavut Government offices, including the Illusuak Cultural Centre in Nain, to the general public.

• Advising staff to work at home if possible and to follow generally accepted protocols to prevent exposure to and the spread of COVID-19, except for those requiring access to needed programs and services.

Meanwhile, the NunatuKavut Community Council, which represents Inuit-descended people in southern and central Labrador, have closed all their offices as of March 17, until further notice.

From now on, their staff will work from home and operations will continue, the council said in a statement.

“We will continue to monitor all official updates related to COVID-19 and will advise of any further changes impacting our members and the services we provide,” the NunatuKavut statement said.

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