Nunavik’s regional airline steps up measures to prevent new coronavirus
“We are prepared”
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.