Nunavik’s latest COVID-19 case linked to worker who didn’t quarantine, says Northern Village

“We want to minimize the anxiety in the community”

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services confirmed a new case of COVID-19 in Salluit on July 12, reportedly linked to a worker who didn’t quarantine before travelling to the region. (Photo courtesy of E. Herault/Interact)

By Sarah Rogers

A Nunavik community is urging regional authorities to send a work crew back south, after a contracted worker arrived in Salluit infected with COVID-19 last week.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services confirmed the new case on Sunday, July 12. The health board said the individual was tested before their flight, but the positive result was only confirmed after the flight left Montreal and Quebec City on July 10.

“They were intercepted upon landing and brought to care immediately,” the health board said on July 12. “The individual does not have any symptoms and is in strict isolation, along with the people they were in contact with in the plane.”

According to the Northern Village of Salluit, a crew of five workers boarded a chartered flight departing from both Montreal and Quebec City on July 10. The group was hired to work on two separate projects in Salluit for Nunavik’s school board, Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, though some of the workers are employed with an engineering firm called Journeaux Associates.

Following months of lockdown, Nunavik just reopened its construction season on July 6, allowing in a limited number of southern workers. In order to travel to the region, workers must first complete a 14-day quarantine, while their employers are required to book screening appointments for them before they are allowed to travel to Nunavik.

There were five workers on the July 10 flight to Salluit and at least two of them left their previous job sites to come directly to Nunavik without quarantining, said Michael Cameron, the coordinator for Salluit’s emergency response to COVID-19 committee.

Cameron spent the weekend tracking the movement of the crews to ensure they didn’t come into contact with other community members. Four of the workers are still waiting on their COVID-19 test results.

“People are very stressed out,” Cameron said.

“There is a cautiousness around new people coming into the community,” he said, noting there was a confrontation between a resident and a visiting construction worker at a local grocery store over the weekend. “We want to minimize the anxiety in the community.”

The very first case of COVID-19 in Nunavik was found in Salluit in late March, Cameron noted, and that prompted the village to have a response plan in place to prevent any future potential outbreak.

Cameron said he is confident the community is not currently at risk of infection. All five workers are in isolation and have food being delivered to them.

But in order to send a strong message to southern contractors, Cameron said the Northern Village has asked the Nunavik Regional Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee (N-REPAC) to send all five workers back south to fulfill their quarantine periods before they’re allowed back in the region to work.

It can be done, he noted—there are other construction crews currently at work in the community, all of whom followed proper quarantine requirements and passed COVID-19 tests before they arrived.

Nunatsiaq News contacted both the health board and Kativik Ilisarniliriniq to ask why the infected worker was able to board their flight last week before they had received test results, but neither organization responded by deadline.

In its July 12 news release, the health board said this latest case of COVID-19 wouldn’t be counted in the region’s total number of cases—17 recovered cases—given the individual was infected elsewhere.

As of July 5, 1,386 people have been tested either in Nunavik or just before arriving in the region.

In a separate release, the Kativik Regional Government said on July 13 that it will start to distribute free face masks to all elders in Nunavik. Residents should contact their local Northern Village office for details on how to pick up their mask.

Share This Story

(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by They have no control on

    Too late, KRG! Our municipality already distributed masks to every household, elder or younger. Apparently, communication is still nil in Nunavik organizations.

    And how come only 4 days of quarantine now, instead of the original two weeks? Who is in charge here?

  2. Posted by Due Diligence on

    An outbreak in communities could be devastating. Between health care workers, airline workers, ship’s crews and now construction workers there needs to be more scrutiny. Now isn’t the time to be complacent. Treat them as if they carry the plague, because they might.

  3. Posted by William josie shecapio on

    It’s good that the EMC are taking action and Micheal Cameron watching the crew as we are starting to get more construction crew from south and we should reconsider to isolate upon arrival into communities and they might contract something from MTL airport we never know where they might have catch’d somewhere from point a or point b and to c.

  4. Posted by sebastien on

    i’m working in quaqtaq and we came in by charter plane last wednesday and we received our autorisation from health board before we even got tested prior to travel looks like someone at health board is missing something
    we delayed de boarding because one of our crew was waiting for is test results
    i can not beleve that someone can board a flight before having his test resuts

  5. Posted by Mask to elders on

    KRG is distributing face mask to elders. So funny and concerning. The mask only protects others, not the user of the mask. It’s as though elders are a threat to pass on the virus. Why not give mask, or at least have these southerners wear a mask. Some things just don’t make sense from you, KRG.

    • Posted by More Misinformation on

      No, masks protect both the wearer and others. This is why masks with the one-way vents are discouraged – they only give the wearer some protection, not others.

      • Posted by One way vent on

        The mask we are seeing people wear are homemade. That means also that protection is variable. Not sure how much protection. It would mainly protect people around us from getting our droplets if we are infected. It could offer a small amount of protection to the wearer. But the best medical mask is made to protect both wearing and the people around. Most people are wearing non medical. Just keep the other protective measure in good practice also.

  6. Posted by Confusion on

    There appears to be lots of confusion for people that are to travel to Nunavik. The regional board of health is not clear on the protocol. Is all this caused by a relaxing of restrictions that have gone too far? Is it also due to uneducated persons at the regional office that should get more schooling before giving out information? Maybe they don’t comprehend the magnitude of this virus. KRG also appears confused, and not clear on the protocol.

  7. Posted by Dollar Bills on

    I wonder who’s paying for the charter plane for 5 workers to come and sit in a hotel in Salluit and have meals delivered to them before (potentially) being sent right back? I’d bet my bottom dollar it’s the school board. Northern money going to southern workers to do absolutely nothing.

Comments are closed.