Nunavik’s regional airline steps up measures to prevent new coronavirus

“We are prepared”

This trilingual information placard on COVID-19 prevention is now in the seat pocket of all Air Inuit aircraft passenger seats. (Image courtesy of Air Inuit)

By Jane George

Air Inuit, Nunavik’s regional airline, will take all necessary steps to maintain the health and safety of its employees and passengers by preventing the spread of the new coronovirus, says the carrier’s president and CEO, Pita Aatami.

According to the most recent official information, the risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 remains low, Aatami said in a Facebook posting on Wednesday, March 11.

“We are prepared and our corporate preparedness action plan is following its course,” he said.

Air Inuit’s new actions include a public announcement encouraging passengers to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“This public announcement will be broadcasted in our aircrafts and in our network airport terminals,” Aatami said.

Air Inuit has also prepared a trilingual educational placard that will be placed in aircraft seat pockets and posted in all airport terminals served by the airline.

Air Inuit’s other actions include:

  • Increasing attention to the cleaning and sanitization of aircraft interior chair tables, armrests, seatbelt buckles, walls, handles and lavatories.
  • Sourcing sanitizing wipes available for the cabin crews to use.
  • Having cabin crews use latex gloves when picking up catering trays, boxes or any items passengers may want to dispose of.
  • Ensuring all airport washrooms have hand soap for use.

“Air Inuit remains pro-active through these challenging circumstances and will be adapting its plan as the situation evolves,” Aatami said.

As of today, there were eight confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Quebec, and none in Nunavik.

In 2008, when bird flu threatened to become a global pandemic, officials said if a major outbreak threatened, airline passengers would not be able to freely travel between Nunavik and southern Quebec for three months or longer.

Isolating Nunavik was then the cornerstone of the health board’s plan to stop a pandemic from entering the region.

The board’s plan said that when airline passengers from Nunavik travelled south during a pandemic, they would not be able to return without first going through a period of enforced isolation, called a quarantine, such as is recommended now for the new coronavirus.

Air travel within Nunavik would continue, but if a community fell ill, all travel to and from the affected community would cease.

Speaking at this past February’s Kativik Regional Council meeting in Kuujjuaq, Minnie Grey, the regional health board’s executive director, said that the new coronavirus was not currently a risk in Nunavik.

But Grey said any health-care workers who travelled out of the country and might be at risk of infection of COVID-19 had been told to stay away from the Nunavik for two weeks—the window in which symptoms appear.

Since Grey spoke to the KRG, the World Health Organization on March 11 declared the new coronavirus a pandemic.

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(8) Comments:

  1. Posted by Travel not on

    Most traveling done in and out and around Nunavik is unnecessary in the best of times. I’m in agreement with traveling for absolutely necessary only. Yup, if you go out of Nunavik, which is often the case with most southerners living here, then stay out for the 2 week period, especially coming from your vacation in the far off lands of contamination. And to Nunavik leaders: as traveling comes to a crawling situation sometime soon, please learn a lesson from it. Please take note of how well our lives can be without all the unnecessary travel for meetings and gatherings. Look at the closeness people will be to their families, usually left behind to attend meetings. Have an accountant do the math on money saved, money to now use on real needed things , not meetings. Cough and shake ha do, but be happier and richer and healthier.

    • Posted by Nunavik on

      I was planning to go on a vacation in the next 2 week to Cuba, but i will wait till maybe October, don t want to get stuck there.

      • Posted by Northstar on

        How many passengers and physical Distancing?

  2. Posted by how will they heed? on

    Teach an old dog new tricks??
    Lot of people never bother washing their hands, even after going to the washroom and they don’t hesitate to cough right in front of others. I’m always disgusted about how others are so unsanitary.
    Taking precaution is not inuk way, so I don’t see how they will start listening. It’s like talking to a wall.

  3. Posted by Covid-19 versus alcohol abuse on

    Very interesting indeed. Social media in Nunavik is lit up with concerns, fears and big time ignorance re covid-19. Fear of death from the virus. Now, if only people were as concerned about what alcohol abuse is doing to the regional, it would make more sense. To all you fear monkers, promote that same fear of this virus into a real fear of the real thing that’s killing people, alcohol. Alcohol will killed more people in Nunavik this year than any virus will do in 20 or 30 years.

  4. Posted by Vivid -19 , the good side on

    Maybe this virus will promote people to go out on the land, go hunting , fishing, camping. Maybe people will be into taking their kids out for the first time. Show your kids the land, instead of showing them play behind the house, throwing rocks and breaking others people material. Show them what it’s like to have a day and night of no fear from alcohol, and drunks. Yes, maybe this virus is what Jesus ordered.

  5. Posted by Inuit Saimusuut on

    One of the big behave things it to shake hands (saimu) with Inuit. I guess all kinds of people. Cheek kissing not so much.
    Also hand-washing is not a real Inuit habit, except after eating.
    And no more cigarette sharing. Cup or bottle sharing.
    Recovery is roughly 50 percent so far. Maybe a lot more people don’t even notice they got the virus. However, good to be cautious for others.

  6. Posted by Roman Mukerjee on

    This indeed is a clear occasion to fuse the need to protect the Inuit from the virus, with death threat and the alcoholism that is also deadly. We all can learn from this world thrustful disease that shakes our underlying consciences. I am proud to be father to my adopted Inuit daughter from Inuvik who works for Indigenous Affairs at headquarters. Please keep me posted and I can lobby for you.

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