Scabies case suspends visits at Iqaluit’s jail

Mite-caused skin infestation detected July 8 at Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Facility

Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Facility is temporarily closed to visitors due to a scabies infection that was first detected July 8, a Justice Department official says. (File photo by Melanie Ritchot)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Iqaluit’s Aaqqigiarvik Correctional Healing Facility is not allowing visitors in the building after a single case of scabies — a common skin infestation caused by small insects called mites — was detected.

The jail, which houses inmates in medium and maximum security, implemented the restrictions after the case was discovered Saturday.

“This precautionary measure was taken in response to the confirmation of a scabies case in one of the clients,” Peter Varga, a Nunavut Justice Department spokesperson, said in an email.

Varga said alternative arrangements, including video visits, are being made. There was only one case of scabies discovered, and the restrictions apply only to Aaqqigiarvik.

The jail’s staff and health-care workers are working to address the situation, he said.

Restrictions on visits will be updated “as the situation requires,” Varga added.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

Scabies usually appears as a very itchy and unpleasant rash on any part of the body as mites dig into the skin, according to a Nunavut Health Department fact sheet.

The mites, which can live on skin for three days, spread from short skin-to-skin contact such as handshakes and hugs, or by sticking to clothing.

Scabies requires a prescribed lotion as a treatment, and the itchiness may last for weeks.

The Health Department recommends doing laundry at high heat to kill any potential mites on clothing.

Scabies impacts 300 million people worldwide annually, but it is more prevalent in Indigenous communities, according to the Canadian Pediatric Society.

This is the first time Aaqqigiarvik, a 112-bed facility that opened in 2021, has had to close its doors to visitors this year.

Vous avez le droit à l'égalité de traitement, Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal

Varga explained the facility may close its doors in certain situations, such as to prevent the spread of disease or if a major security incident requiring a lockdown unfolds.

He said the suspension will be in place until the scabies situation is under control, but likely won’t last more than a week.


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(28) Comments:

  1. Posted by Confusing on

    Which is it, a jail or a healing facility?

  2. Posted by Regular patron on

    Okay, the phrase “one of the clients” tickles my funny bone. Jails serve clients? I wonder what the “clients” have to say about that. Maybe they will take their business elsewhere!!

    • Posted by You’ve been NUHALT’ed on

      In 1951 Carl Rogers wrote a book called “client centered therapy.” Ever since enlightened folks in psychology have been referring to their patients as clients. As ACHF is a ‘Healing Facility’ it too has adopted this terminology, undoubtedly under the influence of some well meaning psychologist.

      • Posted by Umingmak on

        I hate this phrase, “Healing Facility”. The only ones who deserve to heal are the victims of these people.

        • Posted by Think bigger on

          A bit reactive and short sighted in your thinking, Umingmak. These people are part of our communities regardless and if they are not treated in some meaningful way they will continue to hurt other members of the community.

          Of course, none of that is to say they are being ‘healed’ in these facilities, only that they should be.

          • Posted by I agree with Umingmak on

            Sometimes if people have experienced being in the jail, they can have too much sympathy for the accused, and not for the victim, and like Umingmak, I’m more for the victim. There are many like us, and you will not get any healing if you abuse someone, like it or not, you’re a no body .

            • Posted by False dichotomy on

              It’s not an either or proposition, that you are framing it that way betrays your simplemindedness.

              • Posted by Need tougher guards on

                I think guards shoukd be trained to be much tougher on those that are sentence for some crimes. I mean how do you deal with rehabilitation for a repeated offender or someone who continues to drink and cause problems ? Or sexual offenders?

                • Posted by Laughing Out Loud on

                  Go apply tough guy, corrections clearly needs your expertise.

                  • Posted by Poorly trained on

                    There’s too many poorly trained staff, that can only babysit, and be paranoid all during the shift. Sad place to work, low pay as well.

                  • Posted by Interesting sir on

                    Are you conclusion in your comment that a person making a comment that you are considering the person with expertise? Suggesting shouldn’t be considered relevant to expert knowledge. I think the person was suggesting as idea as a comment, not an potential worker. Art least that what I’m Interpreting.

                • Posted by Corrections worker on

                  Come join us and show us how it is done big guy! We are excited to see how this approach turns out for you.

                  • Posted by Can small guys apply too ? on

                    How big do you have to be for prison work? Can smaller people work there ?

                    • Posted by Corrections Officer on

                      Size can be useful at times make, it can also make some people complacent (not everyone). The most important skills are interpersonal.

                  • Posted by Sounds like a big guy angry, in that uniform that don’t fit on

                    We were always watching that attendant on the team who reacted with anger. Usual didn’t last , not for that type of work

                  • Posted by I wouldn’t get too excited on

                    Are you an angry correctional worker? It’s a tough job. There’s lots you can do for your anger. And you’ll fine less stress in other types of work , where you don’t have to be on edge.

                  • Posted by Bad apples on

                    Correction workers need to defend on a comment section need to reflex as to why?

                    • Posted by Lawrence on

                      They are making fun of stupid ideas by people who don’t know anything about what they do, but think they know.

                      Sounds reasonable to me.

                    • Posted by Correction worker and Lawrence on

                      Interesting how some comments are blocking replies.

              • Posted by Mentally ill on

                Many that commit crime to the more serious degree, and those who are repeated offenders are mentally ill, and not diagnosed as such. There’s actually some chance for some to recover and heal, but many needs to be put in an institution for long period If not life. We are very uneducated in the psychological assessment thus far in the progress of learning that we are limited and fouled into believing they can lead normal lives, but time will tell, in opinion that we are wrong, and rehabilitation is not possible, just have to put them away as part of our caring humanity.

            • Posted by Hot take on

              There is nothing wrong with having sympathy for an offender. Doing so does not mean you don’t care for the victim. Both need help and healing.

          • Posted by Thinking is done on

            Many and maybe too many of those in the jails are not part of our communities , even if you think otherwise. They are not welcome back, even if their girl friend or their mother wants them back. The government should be a better job in rearranging the life of theses people to keep them out of where they don’t belong. Just because you were born within, you are not entitled to do what you want to do to,others. We. And many we of us don’t want them back. And we don’t care about their healing.

            • Posted by iThink™ on

              It might be preferable to banish them from our communities, and in some rare cases that does happen. In the majority of cases though, they return and there is not a lot we can do to change that. So, you should care about their healing (can we say rehabilitation) if only for its potential to make the community safer and more livable. It is in your interests to care about their ‘healing.’

              • Posted by Oh yes I forgive to yea right. on

                Oh yes, people must invest some love into savages, to live. Where you get your love learning helplessness, sound like a community I was in a few years back when a rapist got out of jail and was thrown in the air as he’s a jolly good fellow , welcome home. Where only do you see that ? You tell me.

          • Posted by What about the sexual offenders on

            What about that sexual offender that just keeps on offending? What should the community expect there?

      • Posted by That psychologist was not in jail on

        That psychologist was not in jail. He or she got a decent life, good pay, and won’t get scabies either. He can call it what he wants too.

        • Posted by More punishment on

          I think there should be more punishment of these jail birds. Get tough with them while they’re in. Make them not be wanting to do crime again, and if it’s a serious crime, throw away the key. That how lots of people feel, and nothing anyone can do about that, what you think ? Going chance their mind?

  3. Posted by Itchy work on

    Must be itching and scratching for the staff as well. Bad enough being around negativity as a job, can see them now watching each other and the inmates for signs and symptoms.

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