Nunavik health officials advise against non-essential travel
Two Ivujivik residents who tested positive for COVID-19 remain in isolation
Nunavik health officials are advising against all non-essential travel outside the region.
The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services made the recommendation on Thursday, Oct. 15, a few days after two Nunavimmiut tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to their home community from travel to Toronto and Montreal.
Another three Nunavik residents have recently tested positive for the virus in the south.
Current regulations allow travel to and from the region but require all travellers to be screened before boarding a flight to Nunavik, or to present a negative COVID-19 test result from within 96 hours of their departure.
And starting this week, the health board said that anyone travelling to Nunavik will require two COVID-19 tests: one before north-bound travellers board their flights and another test seven days after arriving in the region.
But two individuals were screened first before flying home to Ivujivik on Oct. 12, only to receive positive test results for COVID-19 upon their return home. The health board said the pair would have had to present negative test results before they were allowed to travel home.
Ivujivik mayor Salimuni Qavavauk said the residents have been isolated and an additional nurse was brought into the community to care for them, though he wasn’t aware of their condition.
“We are doing our best, as much as we can,” Qavavauk said. “This is a small town that could easily spread the virus if they are not following guidelines.”
Qavavauk said the municipal council has issued reminders to the community to maintain physical distance, to wash hands often for 20 seconds at a time, and to wear a mask in public places and on public transit.
According to a Nunavik Public Health investigation, no one in the community of 420 had any significant contact with the two people who tested positive for COVID-19, so officials say there’s no need to close public places in the community.
A few people outside Ivujivik did have contact with the two individuals, however, and the health board said they have been contacted and put into isolation.
“Considering the increase in the number of cases in the south and the risk of reintroduction of COVID-19 in Nunavik by travellers, it is recommended to avoid all non-essential travel to and from the south,” the health board said.