The new coronavirus has been detected in the Hudson Bay community of Inukjuak, which has a population of about 1,800. (File photo)

Coronavirus reaches Nunavik community of Inukjuak

“We acknowledge that having a case in a new community can be stressful”

By Jane George

The new coronavirus has reached another Nunavik community: the Hudson Bay community of Inukjuak, which has a population of about 1,800.

“This brings the total of cases in Nunavik to 14, of which five have now recovered from the virus,” the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said in a social media update on Sunday, April 19.

“The individual was already in isolation upon learning the diagnosis and will remain home while being monitored daily by health professionals. As per protocol, public health authorities launched their investigation.

“We acknowledge that having a case in a new community can be stressful, however, everyone should continue to follow the measures in place to reduce the risk of spreading.”

Nunavik is likely to see more cases of COVID-19, Dr. Marie Rochette, Nunavik’s director of the public health, told Nunatsiaq News this weekend, before the latest case was declared.

“The infection is so contagious, and so many people have it outside the region, that we expect to have other cases,” Rochette said.

That’s despite preventive measures taken by the region, including an air travel lockdown.

“Sometimes people can be sick and not have symptoms, but still transmit the infection,” said Rochette. “We have to be very vigilant.”

But keeping the region closed, as it is right now, also has negative consequences, Rochette said: there would be no more housing construction, increased overcrowding and an impact on the mental health of youth, in particular.

“How long can we keep the region locked down? Can we maintain this until we get a vaccine? These are hard questions we need to think about, how life can resume, but trying to protect people the best we can,” she said.

In the meantime, people need to continue observing social distancing, curfews and other restrictions, which may eventually be relaxed, she said.

The good news is that, as far as Nunavik public health officials know, there continue to be no infections of COVID-19 by community transmission.

Community transmission means a person who develops an infection has not come into contact with an infected person.

“At the moment, we have no evidence of community transmission,” Rochette said.

The cases in Puvirnituq  are not linked to the case in Salluit, and are “completely separate,” she said.

“They are really two different cases of people who came from outside and brought the infection with them from outside the region,” Rochette said.

Tests carried out in these two communities among people who weren’t in close contact with the original two cases did not show any positive results for COVID-19.

“Right now in Puvirnituq … we can make a link between the cases, because they are people who lived together or in the same house, or they visited because they were close friends and relatives,” Rochette said.

All but one person who tested positive with COVID-19 have remained in their home, following public health recommendations that say people who aren’t that sick should stay at home when possible, she said.

One remains in Puvirnirtuq’s Inuulitsivik hospital.

Rochette said the health board won’t do tests on the people who have been in close contact with a person with a confirmed COVID-19 lab test, but if it’s someone who visited that person “we will do a test,” she said.

Rochette said the health board is still “a bit limited in the number of tests we can do.”

“Maybe in a few weeks if we have more capacity we will do more,” she said. “We were one of the first regions to get tests at the hospital. We started last week and will get more [kits] next week and we will increase the number of tests.”

Until Sunday, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavik outside Puvirnituq and Salluit.

“We have done tests in other communities and on people who have symptoms and these not have come back positive, so that’s a good sign,” Rochette said.

As of April 19, there were 18,357 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec, many among older residents of long-term care facilities.

No cases have yet been detected in Nunavik’s elders’ residences, Rochette said.

As for personal protection equipment, Rochette said that Nunavik has to make “judicious use” of it, because supplies are limited, she said.

If you are in Nunavik and have symptoms and are concerned that you may have COVID-19, call the number below to speak to a nurse in Inuktitut, English or French. The health line is intended to help those who may need to be screened for COVID-19 and to answer medical concerns related to COVID-19.

• COVID-19 HEALTH LINE: 1-888-662-7482
Monday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

If you are in Nunavik and have general questions about COVID-19, you can call the number below to speak to a health board worker. The line is intended to keep Nunavimmiut informed and answer general questions about subjects such as anxiety and stress related to COVID-19.

• COVID-19 INFO LINE: 1-833-301-0296
Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by Angiyou on

    We need hydroxychloroquine

    • Posted by Keith on

      Why? You in a rush to die faster? The largest study carried out on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 was just released. Turned out 28% of the people who were given hydroxychloroquine plus normal care died, versus 11% who only received normal care. It also made no difference in whether or not someone had to go on a respirator. The study didn’t bother looking at the well-known side effects of the drug, which can include minor things up to heart failure and death.
      Suggestion? Don’t take medical advice from Fox News or Donald Trump.

  2. Posted by Seriously on

    Physical distancing needs to tighten. Too many not compliant. Facebook showed a photo, not even a few weeks ago, of a group in inukjuaq who were together having some beer, indicating that they’ll been isolated for a month or so, and feeling as a group that it’s fine to get together to socialize some, since a month have passed and they’re fine. You see these people are not understanding what’s happening, and they are adults too, not children. There are so many similarities in all the communities of this non compliance. The curfew imposed is not being adhered enough also. There are still openings for transmission in the way Nunavik is trying to navigate the preventive measures. Off course flights are for essential workers , cargo etc. Also aren’t there patients going and coming Montreal appointments? If that’s the case, it’s an opening, good bad or indifferent, it’s still a weak spot. Essential workers are also weak spots. Do patients from inukjuaq still go to pov hospital, and return home? Maybe the weak spots needs to be looked at more vigilantly. Yes! I’m in agreement with the health board doctor to truthfully state that more cases are coming. I want to see more restrictions now, not later when it’s too late. No more alcohol would help.

  3. Posted by Nunavut Resident on

    What are the proposed procedures that will occur that are well-planned for, once the virus is in one Nunavut community?

    Nightly patrols?
    More screening? If so, what types?
    Close community to community travel?
    Close businesses currently open?

    What, if any, of the proposed procedures can be put into place now, proactively?

    Kudos to Dr Patterson and the Premier to date on decisions made and communications. Thank you to the interpreters. It is my wish that our leaders are not overly cautious of having people retaliate, complain, spread fear, etc., should they need to enforce any plan BEFORE the virus hits Nunavut.

    • Posted by Nunavut and Nunavik on

      Maybe Nunavut is more vigilant, more awareness, more serious, and more people are following the protocol more so than Nunavik, I not sure, but I do know, it’s still not seriously taken in Nunavik. There’s been concerns still about gatherings, party goers. Kids out all night long. Groups driving around in cars and trucks drinking. It’s not just local population either, easy to see many southerners that are stranded here and or work here, are not respectful of the physical distancing., still walking or driving as if nothing is happening. Still visiting each other. Not sure about Nunavut, but in Nunavik, transient workers from the south are soon out numbering us all. It seems the system is put in place so they go south for vacation every 3 or 4 months, which is now creating all these weak spots for transmission. There’s always a large number of them going and coming.

  4. Posted by oh my on

    I am somewhat confused as to why Dr. Rochette expects new cases,the region is locked down and there are apparently stringent protocols for those that do travel from elsewhere

    • Posted by Inukjuaq confused too on

      The doctor indicated new cases even before this new case in inukjuaq. Are you still confused as I point that out to you. And I’ll have to tell you that there will be more and more and more. It’s beyond my teaching abilities to teach you what is taking place in Nunavik with this virus. But I’m advising you to listen and follow the guidelines. Listen to the doctors words and be aware of what she said is only the tip of what she will say, and maybe she should say more, to put the truth of this transmission reality in its place. I invite you to stay tune for the show that’s coming from this hint of a few cases YET.

    • Posted by Ok confused on

      Ok oh my. You are confused. What you want the doctor to do? You want her to apologize for indicating or predicting more cases? Is that what you want? Are you sure you are not also in denial? Denying the reality? Sorry, denial is no good in this one. It’s the real stuff going on here. I bet you were confused right from the beginning AKA in denial.

      • Posted by oh my on

        I will respond to the content of your message and ignore the tone. If it takes at most 14 some days for this virus to manifest itself and all the local cases that were originally imported are resolved, flights are monitored by stringent protocols,there should no longer exist vectors for transmission ,this scenario has played out in several states and territories,my question is where are the vectors?

        • Posted by Exist vectors on

          Your statement should make sense, but it will not make sense. Forgive my bluntness. There’s no way to 100% close all vectors to transmission. As long as there are flights coming in, no matter how strictly monitored, if there’s even a slight movement of people! This virus will get in. There’s no sense thinking that Nunavik will escape with only a few cases. Our worst case senerios must always be in our plans. Just think for a moment! There are still patients going to and from Montreal, to and from puvirnituq hospital. Essential workers coming and going. Yes, you are thinking that it’s stringent protocols, but as humans, we’re bound to have the weakest link, even with the stringent rules in place. Just remember, the virus is outside trying very hard to get in, and it will, let’s hope it’s not going to take lives, but the forces for it to get in, as the numbers grows in Quebec , is very very great. Until this virus is contained on a more provincial or country level, we in Nunavik are at high risk. It’s all in the numbers out there trying to get in here. It’s kind of pessimistic reality, mixed with stats, patterns as noted by medical professionals to make predictions, and common sense. All you have to do is follow the protocol, stay safe, and watch it happen. Sorry if I sound negative, but I’m like the doctor, even thou I’m not a doctor, but I’m a student, in the class of watching this .

          • Posted by Exist vectors on

            Just to add to the above comment. We must consider the “R” factor, that’s the reproduction rate of the virus, and the people that one person is likely to infect, as that person becomes infectious. Let’s say that one person will or can infect 2 or more people. Well, when one cases
            Is confirmed positive, then, the spreading has so much,potential. So that’s why theres concern that one case will show more. In Nunavik we are crowded, and not following the rules as we should. As far as the case in salluit goes, I hope, we all hope, but not to relax any measures yet. Pov has 4 recovered, great, but again let’s not relax. Inukjuaq case is first and new, let’s see how it goes. But our reality is measured by the beast that’s in the province’s numbers. We’re kind of at the mercy also of the way the flattened curve becomes in the province and country. But we must do our part. We will have more for sure.

    • Posted by Cases from within the community on

      Even if the region is locked down from travellers, there could still be spread from people within the communities who have it or from those who don’t know they have it yet.

  5. Posted by Inukjuaque on

    It is also this that plays out.
    Some people once they are out on the land are out of virus zone.
    So they get closer to other persons.
    How long does the virus last in the cold.

    • Posted by Great picture of the ignorance on

      Physical distancing is physical distancing, land, air or the sea. Warm, cold, sunny, or rain, this virus doesn’t care. If people are thinking that once you go out on the land , you can relaxed the distancing, then it’s big time ignorance that we are dealing with here. This ignorance is our biggest enemy in fighting this virus.

      • Posted by The Virus likes the cold on

        Actually this virus thrives in cold dry weather, they say it will be better when it gets warmer. They say the hot humid airs helps stop the virus from going through the air from a person talking or coughing to others close by.

  6. Posted by Peter on

    It has to be brought into the communities, is Nunavik doing the same as Nunavut in regards to traveling back from the south?
    Quarantined for 14 days isolated in a hotel before they can travel back home?
    It seems to be working so far for Nunavut.

    • Posted by Quarantine on

      Peter, quarantine is as good as a long rope, like how long is a rope? The quarantine is worth a lot, or worth nothing. Unless the person is put into a bubble on their trip north, there no way 100 % even the quarantine is going to work. It’s just a matter of picking up the virus on the travel route somewhere. The quarantine is all we got right now, so we must enforce it, not sure if Nunavik is vigilant in this, but it’s never 100%, once the quarantine is over and travel has begun.

      • Posted by As Good As The Weakest Link on

        Read the stories of the Nunavut quarantine Nunavummiut hanging out in the stairwells at the quarantine hotels. It is only as good as the will of the people to follow.

  7. Posted by Umma on

    Why are the still drinking getting drunk those are the selfish making uncomfortable and unsafe for the other in the small overcrowd house. When it happen were do they go

  8. Posted by Concern citizen on

    Even with lock down in place, planes with essentials workers are coming from south such as rehabilitation or group home centers who are interacting in close quarters that is a super spreader waiting to happen, and they party every weekend sometime with locals.

  9. Posted by Keith on

    There is an error in the article. The statement “Community transmission means a person who develops an infection has not come into contact with an infected person” is wrong.
    Community transmission means a person has not come into contact with a KNOWN infected person, that is, they got it from an infected person (directly or through transmission like a door handle) but no one knows who that infected person is and therefore you can’t put them in isolation to prevent further infections.

    • Posted by You are right keith on

      Yes that’s an error to say community transmission in that a person didn’t come in contact with an infected person. We’re never know for sure if people are getting it from an infected person, object, or what ever in that respect. I think the concept of community transmission needs more careful analysts. I wouldn’t want to see community transmission being so, and classified as not so. As a matter of fact, if people in the same family and next door gets infected by one or two other infected cases, I’m not sure if we could still say that it’s not community transmitted. This is tricky, but , what I’m saying ! Is. I’m concerned that community transmission is already possiblely happening, but very slowly.

  10. Posted by Stigmatized on

    It’s sad how the Nunavik society is saturated with some much stigma. No just this virus, but in more ordinary times. People are just waiting to jump on the weak. It’s manifested from low self esteem and lack of confidence in the bully. That’s the nature of a bully in the first place: a person with very low self worth, that needs the weaker to prey on. Where does this all come from ? It comes from lack of good up bringing, thats where. It’s passed on through the ages, and has been for some time. It’s just a sad reality in Nunavik. You’ll see other places in the province and country going forward, when Nunavik is traveling in wrong direction, confused and left behind on its own making. Such small population with such unhealthy attitude.

  11. Posted by Z on

    “Sometimes people can be sick and not have symptoms, but still transmit the infection,”
    2 points on this. If you have no symptoms are you sick from anything? In medical terms especially.
    Yes, I understand the carrier transmitter part but are you clinically sick?

    • Posted by Symptoms on

      With or without symptoms , you can be clinically sick. But whether you become gravely Ill is the concern. If you do become gravely ill, it means you will have the symptoms at that time. You can start off with no symptoms, and progress onto symptomatic at any time. But the danger with this virus is that the carriers without symptoms. That’s the biggest battle in dealing with this virus. The carrier without symptoms. For a person themselves that remains with no symptoms, it’s great for them but not for anyone that comes in contact with them.

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