Nunavut confirms first case of COVID-19

Individual is in isolation and doing well, chief public health officer says

Nunavut has its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the community of Pond Inlet, the Government of Nunavut announced on Thursday, April 30. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

Nunavut has its first case of COVID-19, the territory’s chief public health officer said in a news release issued this morning.

The first case has been confirmed in the north Baffin community of Pond Inlet.

“We did anticipate that it was only a matter of time before our territory had a confirmed case, and unfortunately today is that day,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer,  in the release.

“We have initiated contact tracing in the community and our rapid response team is on its way to Pond Inlet, to provide care and ensure the community has all necessary supports to help manage the situation.”

The individual is in isolation and doing well, the release said.

All travel to and from Pond Inlet is now restricted, with the exception of cargo and emergency travel. This includes travel by land, the release said.

“There is no need to panic. Nunavut has had time to prepare, and we are in a solid position to manage this. We ask people not to place any blame, not to shame and to support communities and each other as we overcome COVID-19 in Nunavut,” Premier Joe Savikataaq said in the release.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

“Anyone who has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call the COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately isolate at home for 14 days. Please do not go to the health centre in person,” the release said.

Further updates will be provided at a news conference at 11 a.m. today

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(71) Comments:

  1. Posted by John K on

    If it is determined through contact tracing that this is related to a teacher forced to return to the territory then we MUST demand resignations.

    Same if it is determined to have come from a mine.

    • Posted by John D. on

      The schools were closed due to COVID-19, the teachers that left Nunavut shouldn’t have left in the first place. Now, they might be the carriers into Nunavut.

      • Posted by Smarten up on

        Teachers were already leaving. It was spring break. So we can’t blame them. And everyone who was coming back into the territory had to mandatory self isolate for 14 days. So don’t blame it on the teachers. I have many friends who are teachers and have been working tirelessly to prepare learning materials for students during these trying times.

      • Posted by John K on

        This is a very good example of very typical ignorance. Most of the 90ish teachers (only 90 out of hundreds) were out of the territory on sanctioned time off. Not every DEA in the territory runs on Iqaluit’s schedule.

        Let’s call a spade a spade here. They were forced to return because we must stick it to transient workers at every opportunity. We have a deep seated need to make people feel guilty about moving here.

      • Posted by Reality on

        Exactly right. It’s the fact that the teachers left that introduced the increased risk, not the fact that they eventually had to return home to their jobs, without any consequences for abandoning them in the first place.

        • Posted by John K on

          I assume you will feel just as outraged about every other person away from the territory on legitimate travel that began before travel restrictions were in place?

          No, of course you won’t. Because you can’t assume they are transient with the same certainty you can a teacher. And if they aren’t transient then you feel no need to punish them.

          • Posted by Reality on

            Teacher’s aren’t transients, you are right. THAT is why returning to their homes (which are in Nunavut, right?) and jobs was the correct action to take. It’s also known that not all of them were leaving for “March break”. They heard the schools were going to be closed for 2 weeks, and took the opportunity to make a trip, many of them gambling that the schools would not re-open. Most workers (even those “transients”) don’t have that luxury. The teachers are very privileged to have been paid their whole salaries and not penalized at all for being absent.

            • Posted by John K on

              Well you got your wish. Now we have to lay in the bed we have made for ourselves.

              But at least we stuck it to some outsiders. The photocopies must flow.

          • Posted by Pay Close Attention on

            Ah, Nunavut’s inherent xenophobia (dare I say racism?) shines through. Well done!

            To be very clear, a resident of Nunavut is not a transient. One year and one day and you are a resident. Get that through your head.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        The teachers who left during spring break did so under no travel restrictions. Repeating this tiresome argument is boring and pointless.
        The real liability rests with the GN who with the blessing of the CPHO insisted on the return of the teachers at the height of a pandemic and after travel restriction had been put in place.
        It curious why you would not assign this act with the same irresponsibility and reckless? Please let us know.

      • Posted by Zade on

        Ah John, pardon? Many of the schools were on break and the teachers were at free will to do what they wanted in terms of travel. Thanks.

        • Posted by Hames on

          @Zade: pretty sure John K is being facetious here. Judging by his prior comments/positions, I’d put my money on a fair dose of sarcasm in his comment.

    • Posted by #1 Crackpot on

      Only on the Nunatsiaq News can any crackpot comment on anything anonymously…
      I would like to see how many of these teachers that are pissed off because they were made to show up for work after sneaking out of the territory on unapproved leave and are posting here, would be posting their BS excuses if they had to attach their real name to the comment. I bet they would be surprised if they knew how easily the NNews could identify them by their IP address.
      All thing considered, The GN has done a surprisingly good job in regards to this pandemic and everyone should stop the blaming each other and start working together to help reduce the spread of Covid-19

      • Posted by No Moniker on

        I’m not sure if you noticed, but you forgot to leave a real name along with your comment. Which is actually quite comical, I’m laughing, but at your expense sadly. Let me re-write your paragraph, just for a different perspective.
        Only on Nunatsiaq News can any crackpot repeat a false and discredited narrative under the cloak of anonymity. Some are animated by extraordinary anger. What explains this? And why do they seem so deaf to fact and nuance? Does information matter to them insofar as it can be used to confirm their fear and prejudices?
        What do you think?

        • Posted by James on

          @No Moniker: I’m certain that you neglected to leave your real name in your comment to #1 Crackpot about how he didn’t leave his real name, which you found comical at his expense….but actually is now ultimately and effectively hilarious at your expense!! I’d laugh, but I’m not a very jovial person; I did employ two exclamation points to showcase my enthusiasm.
          I think you might be one of the teachers #1 Crackpot was alluding to!

          • Posted by No Moniker on

            Interesting twist James, but hypocrisy is the issue here for me, I don’t care whether one uses their name unless they have made than an issue themselves. Understand now? Think it through a little. And no, I am not a teacher, but thanks for the compliment.

            • Posted by James on

              You did, specifically, make an issue about not using one’s name. So, at the risk of pointing out faulty logic, no intelligent person would understand.
              I redact my preposition that you might be a teacher based on the forgoing logic assessment; not that it should ever be construed as a compliment. I’ve spent enough time in Nunavut to get a vibe for the underlying currents of racism, reasonable or not, and how groups like teachers may be contributing to an end being vehemently denied by the very same group.

              • Posted by No Moniker on

                My goodness, James. You need to think before you type. I mean, do you even know what a preposition is? Maybe I should be a teacher after all… hmm…

  2. Posted by why u dum on

    I told you all 14 days ago, April 30 we would so our first case! the government plan has failed, covid – 19 is now in Nunavut. Great job!

    • Posted by dum is relative on

      Did you actually believe Nunavut would *never* have a case of COVID-19?

      • Posted by why u dum on

        I was hoping that our leaders were going down the right path, they are not

      • Posted by dum is relative on

        You have evidence that it was not brought to the community by an essential front-line worker (who were not required to isolate)? Or by someone who was asymptomatic, despite 14-day isolation?

        • Posted by why u dum on

          Before these flights we had no covid – 19 now we do. it takes 14 days for virus to manifest, according experts, and other 5 days for the test results to be confirmed. This was indeed a person on that first flight, on April 6, when these people should of all been isolated.

          • Posted by Nunavut student on

            It doesn’t take 14 days for the virus to “manifest”. The first isolation group flew in on April 10, and your timelines don’t line up. Maybe read about the subject before spewing crap and throwing blame.

            • Posted by why u dum on

              Actually it does, 14 days to manifest and 5 days for the test results to come back = 19 days. That is exactly when the first people who were isolated in the south came back.

              • Posted by Transient Tim on

                Not true, on average it takes about 5 days to manifest symptoms. By 14 to 19 days people are either in the stage of recovery, or they are succumbing to the disease.

    • Posted by Concern on

      Were you the one who gave it if you knew it would be april 30th????

  3. Posted by Bob on

    Egg in the face of Joe and all GN policy makers.

    • Posted by Not bob on

      The Premier and CMO deserve a medal for keeping covid out as long as they did. To everybody else don’t be like Bob, don’t give in to hate and ignorance

      • Posted by Friend of Bob on

        “The Premier and CMO deserve a medal for keeping covid out as long as they did.”
        What have they done to deserve such accolades from you? Please let us hateful ignoramuses know so we can heap mindless praise on them along with you.

        • Posted by not bob on

          What have they done??? They kept covid away from their residents longer than any other place on EARTH, thats what they done, LOL

          Don’t be a Bob, LOL 😉

  4. Posted by I live in the Arctic on

    good luck pond inlet, here is to hoping you make it out of this well.

    • Posted by I live in the Arctic on

      if the person came in on a flight they’ll check all those on that flight as well right?

  5. Posted by Bark on

    Please tone down a bit.
    If this person just recently arrived, then by how?
    With who? and are they okay.
    Try to deal with this reasonably.
    It will probably have to greater effect than the rest of Canada.

  6. Posted by And they struggle to get basic drinking water on

    The MLA for Pond Inlet was on the radio the other day asking for a water pump at their local water station as it broke with the cold weather in October. How are the residents going to battle covid-19 as their water supply is limited to wash their hands. Minister Kusugak where have you been hiding? Will you be getting this basic water supply issue fixed ASAP?

    • Posted by confused on

      Each community that handles their own water supply is given an annual budget for maintenance. The hamlet didn’t maintain it properly and they’re the ones who didn’t check that the heat trace was working. The hamlet doesn’t want to own up to their screw up and expect the GN to take responsibility

  7. Posted by Darren on

    Personally I agree with the CHO, it was inevitable we would get a case. Look at EVERY other area of Canada, they had cases WEEKS ago. The strong measures taken by this Government bought us several weeks of preparation, realistically that was the best possible case we could hope for. Great job to all the very hard working individuals involved in this. You are greatly appreciated for your efforts and your decision making in this very uncertain time.

    • Posted by Chris Otis on

      Well said!

    • Posted by matt on

      well said, it was bound to happen

  8. Posted by Wondering on

    Is not confirmed to have been a teacher. It could have been someone returning from medical. Next you’ll be blaming FANS students who returned. All will have undergone 14 days of supervised quarantine. It has been know since the beginning, that even after 14 days, people could still have zero symptoms, but be caring COVID.
    What I would like to know is why, for educators who were wanting to be granted permission work from home, has it take a week for them to be sent ‘the form”. We have had packages going out this week to students. We are missing 2 educators who were waiting to hear if they could remain in the south and work remotely These teachers have contributed nothing to the learning packages –which is what I don’t understand. The shouldn’t have been sending PDF’s to their principals with school work for kids. Have these people been receiving a salary while sitting around in the south doing nothing?
    They prepared no work: should be LWOP all this time.

  9. Posted by tuktuborel on

    I think it is important for the public to know how this transmission happened. Did this happen by a person going home from another community for example. Or did this person go through a 14 day isolation before travel to Nunavut but still carried COVID-19? Is the 14 day isolation working? Or is this a person deemed essential services who did no quarantine and arrived in Pond. We need to know how the transmission happened so that we can be assured that the right steps were being done and what needs to be done to improve.

  10. Posted by Putuguk on

    Our Premier was the first to say, and is quoted directly in the story, that people should not blame or shame due to this situation.

    Unfortunately, literally the very first thing that happens is people ignore his leadership and morph into online Sherlock Holmes figuring out how this disease got into Pond before Health has even completed contact tracing.

    I think we should follow our Premier’s direction. It is very good advice. Even trying to point fingers at this stage is not at all helpful. What can that possibly do except make others upset?

    It sounds like the situation is being handled. Hang in there Mittimatalik. Hope all are able to see this serious situation through to a positive conclusion – no spread, no major illness.

    • Posted by Why u dum on

      He said this , because he and his government policies are to blame!

  11. Posted by Christine Wight on

    Please DONT START BLAMING ANYONE!!! This virus is very very strong and it was just a matter of time …. Irrespective of controls and think NU Official did their very best to try and mitigate… … it was going to make it into the Territory …… Luckily it has bought your officals time to prepare well and if everyone works together .. with clear, practical and controlled responses… things will be ok. The worst thing people can do right now is start blaming everyone…. it is the VIRUS that is hurting people… please be the compassionate – community I know and love to be true. Please follow the guidelines as prescribed by your health officials .. Sending up lots of warm hopes and wishes!!

  12. Posted by COVID on

    IQALUIT, Nunavut (March 13, 2020) – Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer, today outlined additional preventive measures and the Government of Nunavut’s (GN) current preparation in response to COVID-19.

  13. Posted by concerned on

    I am a Concerned Local, Why are we all singling out Teachers??? What is wrong with Y’ALL??? What if it’s a local person who came from somewhere? Are we going to make the same noise and Blame??? This is so….. could not find the word.
    Let us pray for the affected whether it’s a southerner of Northerner, It does not matter. Let us do what we are asked to do:
    ****Social Distance *** I see a lot of people on one Skidoo or four wheeler, people gather outside the store, swap cigarettes, kids play outside in large groups. REALLY!!!
    You think you are immune to COVID – 19???

    • Posted by Medical Travellers on

      I have always been much more concerned about our returning medical travel lets,

      There are many more of them, they’ve been in hospitals and other high risk environments, and the reports of the lack of discipline in the quarantine hotels are, to my mind, very credible.

      Doesn’t matter anyway, virus doesn’t care where your ancestors came from, And we’re all in this together.

    • Posted by concerned optimist on

      yes and yes! well said..
      People, read and understand.

  14. Posted by My heart goes out Pangnirtung on

    My heart goes out to Pond Inlet, there is no need to blaming framing anyone, we of Nunavimmiut are learning to love one another, forgiving each other’s, keep washing our hands for 20 seconds ever after coming back from shopping physical distancing about two meters/6 feet away.

    We are respecting our curfews being given by our KRPF Police department, we are being informed by our higher authorities, every after 14 villages Mayors meetings, learning where are now, we have a website from our Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services notifying us of how many more covid-19 cases are. And we are very thankful that 8 have recovered well, some still on isolation.

    So, please learn one another, Inuk, southerner or another community people.

    Keep praying for hope, like put rainbows on your windows. Love you all.

    • Posted by My heart goes out to Pond Inlet on

      My corrections, Pond Inlet not Pangnirtung.

  15. Posted by Taima on

    Taima. Stop guessing and stop looking for scapegoats to blame. Covid-19 was eventually come to Nunavut sooner or later – the risk was always there and it has materialized. It has spread every part of this earth. No matter how careful or how diligent people are, or how governments have made efforts to contain, it has spread, regardless. Anxiety, stress and blaming are not the constructive way to address and contain the virus. Be calm, stay strong and be patient until the virus is contained. It might take weeks or months to contain it, as viruses tend to go in waves to others who haven’t yet developed it, as their immune system hasn’t yet been exposed.

    • Posted by This is what we do on

      This is Nunavut, scapegoating is a national pastime here. This crisis hasn’t created this dynamic within us, it is only showing it to us.

      • Posted by Scapegoating not limited to Nunavut on

        Scapegoating isn’t limited to Nunavut. Trump would be your worst case scenario, constantly blaming others and never himself. He keeps blaming China and inciting racism against Asians. But the US had its own failures with delays for mass-scale COVID-19 testing. The initial screening tests by Centre for Disease Control were faulty. Crisis brings out the best of us and the worst of us – human nature being ill-equipped to deal with stress, trauma and anxiety. Nunavummiut have experienced historical trauma from non-Inuit that triggers deep-rooted anger and pain towards present day non-Inuit, who mean well but don’t appreciate the depth of the infliction of their collective wounds. The teacher issue was one of them, only because previous teachers would exploit them, and cause severe physical, mental and psychological injuries. Today, majority of teachers are non-Inuit with subsidized housing (where they don’t receive any elsewhere in Canada), and all their other costs covered. Inuit teachers on the other hand, do not receive as much support, such as curriculum guides in their language, certification nor do they enjoy as much access to subsidized housing as their non-Inuit counterparts. There was alot of anger, because Inuit do not opt to leave Nunavut even if they went on their March break. Whenever a non-Inuk leaves, Inuit think of the only reason they move to Nunavut is to enjoy the seniority, the pension rates, the subsidized housing , the settlement allowance – alot of money is exported down south – money that could have been invested towards more Inuit teachers, and retained in the Nunavut economy. But this natural anger is not limited to Inuit either. Look how fast the mining companies in BC booted out Chinese once Canadians found they were usurping good Canadian jobs.

        • Posted by Broken Record on

          Interesting comment, but embedded in it I see a sort of soft justification for these ongoing displays of anger and hate toward southerners. But by all means, unleash some more. I’m sure that it is working very well for you.

  16. Posted by Hospital on

    Scary part, all flights travelling out to Pond Inlet goes thru Iqaluit, no other way .

    Ottawa confirmed all major hospitals in Ottawa had confirmed cases – medical travels back and forth to communities – Iqaluit – Ottawa almost on a daily basis.

  17. Posted by Name withheld on

    The Leaders need to close the elders home, and look after them, keep them inside.

  18. Posted by Worried for our communities on

    The carelessness of our Health Care workers will be why this spreads. Here in Nunavut we have Public Health nurse(s) on the Covid19 case actively doing SWAB TESTINGS and are still going out to parties and being around people who go home to other people. This is our first and biggest mistake, unfortunately.


    • Posted by Let me get this straight on

      You’re saying that:

      People To Blame For Spreading COVID-19:
      Front-line healthcare workers

      People NOT To Blame:
      People having 10 kids despite living in a 2 bedroom apartment
      People sharing smokes
      People playing Patik at gambling houses all night
      People spitting on the ground
      People not washing their hands
      People refusing to distance
      People coughing and sneezing into open air
      People let their kids come and go as they please

      Just so we’re clear?

      • Posted by Trina on

        I’m not saying that. I am saying that we want to protect ALL our communities and us nurses come to help the communities. No one is to blame and I’m sorry if you think that’s what I’m saying. I’m saying stay the F home!! This includes all members of each community but ESPECIALLY us, our front line workers who are exposed everyday. Don’t go to parties or drives with locals to cabins and out visiting friends, simple. As southerners from outside of these isolated communities we have to set examples for the community to follow. But why should they if our nurses are out partying with friends they’ve met? Tell me why this is OK? I’ve seen the partying with locals in all communities i’ve been, but this isn’t the time to be partying with locals and it terrifies me heath care workers exposing themselves (Swabbing, etc) are still out with members of the community and in close contact.

        We all need to help with the spread, and I’m not putting blame on a single person. It’s just a scary reality in these communities right now. Go to work and GO HOME.


        • Posted by Gotcha on

          Trina: “ But why should they if our nurses are out partying with friends they’ve met? Tell me why this is OK? I’ve seen the partying with locals in all communities i’ve been, but this isn’t the time to be partying with locals and it terrifies me heath care workers exposing themselves (Swabbing, etc) are still out with members of the community and in close contact.”

          So you say you’ve making these accusations because you’ve seen healthcare workers partying with new friends in all the communities you’ve been during this time of isolation? You’ve been going to other communities during all of this? Really? Or are you just assuming that because you saw it happening before there was a global pandemic and you want to blame these people for it being in Pond Inlet? That is a serious accusation. Shame on you. Grow up.

        • Posted by James on

          @Trina: “as Southerners…we have to set examples for the community to follow.”!?!?
          I could give you a long list of “Southerners” who shouldn’t be setting examples in the general day to day pursuit of life anywhere on this planet.
          It’s positions like Trina’s that will ensure a long healthy bout of racism remains prevalent in Nunavut.

    • Posted by Just so we’re clear… on

      You’re saying that:

      People To Blame For Spreading COVID-19:
      Front-line healthcare workers

      People NOT To Blame:
      People sharing smokes
      People cramming into gambling houses all night
      People spitting on the ground
      People not washing their hands
      People refusing to distance
      People coughing and sneezing into open air
      People let their kids come and go as they please

      Is that right?

  19. Posted by Cliff on

    before you start talking about careless health care professionals, I would be far more concerned with the folks going to their local bootlegger or dealer and then getting together to party. there are far to many people sharing blunts, pipes and bottles then are getting swabbed.

  20. Posted by Helen on

    It has nothing to do with teacher’s returning…

  21. Posted by Christine on

    Covid is in the Territory. Blaming is not going to change anything. Focus your energy on keeping you and your family safe. People die from this virus!! Covid does not care who you are, what race you are, where you come from, what language you speak, what your profession is or isn’t and NO ONE is invincible. If people don’t follow direction, Nunavut as you know it will never be the same. Alot of people you know might die. It might be your family member medivaced down South to die ALONE. It could be your child sent out to die ALONE and if you don’t think it could happen to you or someone you know you need to wake up! Your ignorance could kill you and others. Think about how the person who has it feels. They sure didn’t want Covid. No one does. Pray for that person, their family and that community. Stop wasting energy on crap that doesn’t matter. We can’t go backwards. In order to survive this horrible virus, we need to be smart about it. From reading some of the comments on this thread, we need to be scared if that is the attitudes people have and where they are focusing their energy!!! We stand no chance.

  22. Posted by The Truth on

    I read other articles and they all reported that the CMO said to (stay at home) except for essential works. When and how did teachers become essential workers? Why is the minister of education putting the teachers under this additional stress to go in and make packages to send out to students? Are they going to still send packages out in the midst of this heightened anxiety now? Give me a break. And where is the teachers union representatives? Now is the time for them to raise their heads and their voices. They are getting money from each of the teachers paycheck and yet still they are keeping quiet in all of this. The teachers MUST take the union to court for not defending them.
    Do you notice how their union does not say anything? They only wait for the government to say something then piggy ride on it.
    Minister of Education please give the hardworking teachers some more respect. And NTA please talk up for your teachers

  23. Posted by Entertained Inuk on

    The comments are so comical. I am entertained…thank you nunatsiaq news for allowing the children be children and sing $hit at each other.

    The only people to blame are our leaders the government for making foolish decisions. They are the ones telling us not to play the he blame game after all.

    You children well got your blinders on blaming each other.God speed Pond Inlet. Hope it dose not spread like wild fire.

  24. Posted by Jonathan Park on

    I put my name on a comment to say the following:

    Let’s try looking around for our closest neighbour in need and make sure they have food, clothing, shelter, and a place to socially isolate if need be.

    Let’s have no regard to who they are or where they came from as we do it.

    From fear, comes anger, which leads to hate. That is far more than a progression of a Sith in Star Wars. It is a real metaphor for what just happened above.

    Please take care of yourself, then take care of your neighbour. Many of you are so afraid you are seeing enemies everywhere.

  25. Posted by Gean on

    Lots of new nurses came to pond and them and rcmp dont have to isolate before travel. Teachers do. Totally came from health center. They have always caused more problems than good for my family experiences.
    They should stay out and help over the phone. It would be the same level of care anyways. Then just have someone at health center distribute prescribed meds. That’s what is happening in the south now. All by phone unless doctor wants to see you. Quick and convenient.

  26. Posted by Testing on

    Everyone is forgetting that there is not enough testing going on in Nunavut and at the entry points, this virus could already be here in most of the communities and we don’t know it because there is not enough testing by the GN.
    80% of people infected show no or little symptoms and can pass it on to others.
    For this virus to get into Pond Inlet it has to come from Ontario and then travel through Iqaluit. Could it be in Iqaluit now too? We don’t know because of the lack of testing.

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