Kuujjuaq locked out, case in Kangiqsujuaq, airport restrictions in place throughout Nunavik, Quebec – Eye on the Arctic


The village of Kuujjuaq, in Nunavik, the Inuit region of arctic Quebec. A case of COVID-19 was reported here on Thursday and the community has been quarantined. (Eilis Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)

An active case of COVID-19 was reported in the Nunavik community of Kuujjuaq on Thursday, following a new case in Kangiqsujuaq on Wednesday, the same day the regional government put in place several airport restrictions amid the increase cases of COVID-19.

The case in Kuujjuaq is not that of a person who traveled to the South, which suggests a possible community transmission. Kuujjuaq has been put on red alert, which means the community is now locked out until further notice, close all non-essential services and ban visits between people living in different households.

The regional health council said it will provide an update on how the red alert will affect flights entering and leaving the community later today.

The case of Kangiqsujuaq is not linked to displacements to the south, but rather to displacements in the region.

“Investigations have linked this new case to a known case of COVID-19 in Nunavik,” the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said in a Facebook article on Wednesday.

“The contacts for this new case in Kangiqsujuaq have been identified and ordered to be screened and isolated. “

Because the case does not appear to be the result of community transmission, no additional COVID-19 public health restrictions are being put in place in Kangiqsujuaq right now.

The community has been put on orange alert, the second highest COVID-19 alert level in the region.

The community of Kangiqsujuaq in Nunavik, Quebec. A case of COVID-19 was reported here on Wednesday. (Eilis Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)
New airport rules

Also on Wednesday, the Nunavik regional government introduced new airport rules for the region.

From now on, only passengers and airport staff will be allowed to circulate in the terminals. Social distancing of two meters is required, as is wearing a mask at all times.

“Passengers will only be allowed to circulate in the terminal for the period necessary before the departure and or after the arrival of their flights,” the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Passengers will be asked to limit their time in the terminal building for as short a period as possible.”

Additional restrictions may also be put in place in communities currently under red alert, including Kangirsuk.

Number of cases reported in Nunavik as of October 20 at noon

“The risk is now the highest it has ever been,” the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said on Wednesday. “There is a risk of catching COVID-19 everywhere in Nunavik. “(Eilís Quinn / Eye on the Arctic)

On Wednesday at noon, the most recent counts of community cases in Nunavik were:

  • Ivujivik – 11 active cases
  • Inukjuak – 2 active cases which are not related
  • Kangirsuk – 11 active cases
  • Salluit – 1 active case
  • Kangiqsujuaq – 1 active case
  • Kuujjuaq – 1 active case

There are also seven active cases outside of Nunavik:

  • 4 are connected to the region’s airports
  • 3 are in Ullivik, the Dorval residence used for residents of Nunavik in Montreal for health services

The NRBHSS indicates that several people are still under observation in Ivujivik, Inukjuak, Kangirsuk, Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq and that the figures will be updated as needed.

-Source: Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services

The KRG said flights had resumed to and from Ivujivik, but only for essential travel.

“All the communities of Nunavik have been alerted to the potential dangers that could arise due to the recent epidemic”, declared the KRG.

“The local emergency response teams that had been put in place at the start of the pandemic have been reactivated. The Kativik Regional Government takes this situation very seriously and makes sure that all communities are ready to deal with any further spread of the COVID-19 virus. “

Vaccination levels of concern

Nunavik continues to have very low vaccination rates in the region.

Regionally, only 40 percent of the inhabitants of Nunavik The total population of around 13,000 was fully vaccinated as of September 19, according to the most recent data released on September 29.

Fifty-two percent of the eligible population received two doses.

On Wednesday, the KRG urged people over 12 to protect themselves.

The vaccines were shipped to communities on the Ungava and Hudson Bay coasts in Nunavik on October 19.

Delivery of vaccines to the Nunavik community of Aupaluk on October 19. (Courtesy Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services)

“The vaccine is easily accessible and is available at your local health center. Vaccination is by far the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. To protect Nunavimmiut seniors, loved ones, family and friends
need to be vaccinated.

As of Thursday at noon, 27 active cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nunavik, distributed among the communities of Kangiqsujuaq, Salluit, Ivujivik, Inukjuak, Kuujjuaq and Kangirsuk.

Salluit, Ivujivik and Kangirsuk are on red alert. The remaining communities of Nunavik have gone on amber alert.

The orange alert level means that no gatherings of more than 10 people are allowed, that no gatherings are allowed bringing together people from different communities and that only essential movements are allowed in the area.

UPDATE

This text has been updated with the latest Kuujjuaq case count and details on its lockdown.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn (at) cbc.ca

Related stories from the north:

Canada: Nunavik Board of Health cancels non-critical health trips to the South, active COVID cases rise to 20, third community is put on red alert, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland lifts COVID-19 restrictions on direct travel to small communities, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland to relax COVID-19 rules on October 20, plans to fully lift restrictions next month, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Rural Alaska in danger as COVID-19 outbreak floods distant hospitals, The Associated Press

Antarctic: UK delivers COVID-19 vaccine to UK station in Antarctica, Eye on the Arctic


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