Skip to content

Community transmission confirmed; COVID-19 now in BCC and Iqaluit Boarding Home

New cases in Iqaluit include boarding home and correctional centre, people are urged to wear masks outside of their households. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

There are 11 new cases in Nunavut today, all of which are in Iqaluit. This brings the total to 61 active cases in the capital and 67 overall in the territory.

Some of these new cases have also cropped up in two places of concern, there are four new cases in the Baffin Correctional Centre (BCC) and one at the Tammaativvik Boarding Home. 

The case at the boarding home was found in a staff member, all residents who were at the boarding home during the exposure period are being notified and tested. 

The remaining cases are in Kinngait and Rankin Inlet, where there are four and two respectively. 

There have also been five recoveries today, all in Iqaluit, there are now 39 recovered cases in relation to this latest outbreak. 

Earlier this week it was revealed that the cases in this outbreak are of the B.1.1.7 variant, which has a higher rate of transmission. 

People who are travelling to Iqaluit for medical at the moment are being diverted to other locations in the city, such as other hotels, bed and breakfasts and private dwellings to avoid the risk of further exposure at Tammaativvik. 

On April 27, an individual was transferred to BCC, as per BCC protocols this person was isolated from the general population and tested, which later came back positive. 

“Additionally, three more unrelated cases were identified in inmates, all positive cases are isolating at (BCC), the correctional facility took immediate action to have all residents swabbed for COVID-19 and separated into a cohorting system to ensure physical distancing is maintained and to limit transmission,” Patterson explained. 

There has been some extra space at the jail since the fire that damaged parts of BCC caused a number of inmates to be transferred out-of-territory. 

“We’ve had a year to prepare for this, the four people that have tested positive are isolated in the BCC unit that has not been repopulated since the fire,” said Minister of Justice George Hickes. 

On April 29 an Iqaluit resident was medevaced out of the city to a southern hospital after developing COVID-19 related complications. 

“This individual has been hospitalized and is in stable condition. Out of respect for the individual and family we will not releasing additional information at this time,” said Patterson. 

The GN is also doing it’s third round of it’s COVID-specific Small Business Support Program. 

“Small Nunavut businesses can now access another round of contribution of up to $5,000,” said Premier Joe Savikataaq. “We are here helping support you.” 

Community spread indicated

Dr. Patterson also stated that there is now community transmission in Iqaluit as there are a number of cases now where the links could not be established. 

The Premier also urged people to wear their masks whenever they’re outside of their home. 

“I am shocked at how many people around Iqaluit aren’t wearing masks,” he said. “Mask up every time you’re outside your household, wash your hands often, keep strong, physical distancing from others when you’re outside, stay home, get vaccinated.”

Everyone living in a household of someone who is isolating – including exempted critical workers – and anyone who has travelled out of Iqaluit to their home community or those under an isolating order for exposure for COVID-19 will be required to isolate. 

Essential workers will also be required to follow the same rules as an exempted worker, “this means you are only permitted to go to work and then home, wear a mask at all times outside where you are staying, if you cannot find someone to deliver groceries, you can shop once per week during the 14-day period of isolation,” said chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson. 

“All in-territory medical travel flights departing from the boarding home are cancelled yesterday, to allow us to trace and test high-risk contacts, said Patterson. “We should have the results on the rest of them (April 30), and once we have those we can make the decisions on further travel, our hope is we can let them know by sometime later today or tomorrow at the latest.” 

Nunavut’s minister of Health also reiterated Savikataaq’s message. 

“Stay home and get vaccinated, it’s pretty much that simple, if everybody doesn’t do their part we could be in the same situation for months and maybe even lose our summer,” said Health Minister Lorne Kusugak.