Skip to content

Low risk of exposure from Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit Iliniarvik, classes to resume for cohort B tomorrow

“I urge families to talk to youth about the vaccines so they can make an informed choice,” says CPHO
Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson (front) responds to a reporter’s questions on June 14, while the Premier’s Press Secretary Cate Macleod (left) listens. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

There are no new cases and no new recoveries reported from COVID-19 June 14. Over the weekend the number of cases in Iqaluit rose from two to nine with four new cases being reported on Friday and another three being diagnosed Saturday.

The three diagnoses on Saturday presented with symptoms while the four cases Friday were found through contact tracing.

“Public Health continues to follow up on the cases of COVID-19 that resulted in exposure notices last week as well as the new cases announced on Friday,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s Chief public health officer (CPHO).

Those exposure notices were the Qikiqtani General Hospital emergency waiting room from Monday, June 7 at 8 p.m. to Wednesday, June 9, at 9 p.m. and the Tammaativvik Boarding Home from Friday, June 4 to Tuesday, June 8.

There was no evidence of transmission taking place at the boarding home nor the Qikiqtani General Hospital emergency room. Contact tracing is ongoing and people are still being asked to get tested if they were at either of the two locations during the exposure period.

On June 13, it was announced two students of Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik School tested positive for COVID-19. According to Patterson, transmission occurred outside of the school.

The two students are asymptomatic and are isolating at home.

Following contact tracing and testing of high-risk contacts completed June 14, the CPHO stated “The risk of exposure to other students at the school is considered low, and it is safe for staff and students from Cohort B to resume classes tomorrow (June 15).”

Vaccination clinics for youth beginning

Vaccinations for youth aged 12 to 17 start this week in Iqaluit and other communities across the territory, with a walk-in Pfizer vaccine clinic taking place at the Curling Rink in Iqaluit June 16 to 19. The Moderna vaccine will also be available for anyone over 18. Second dose clinics in Iqaluit are set to take place from July 14 to 17.

Youth who go to a vaccine clinic will be assessed by nurses to ensure they know they’re making an informed choice, if the nurse determines parental consent is required they will be asked to come back with a parent.

“I would like to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and I urge families to talk to youth about the vaccines so they can make an informed choice,” said Patterson.

Mobile surveillance testing and vaccinations is also currently taking place in the capital, which started on June 12. The Iqaluit Public Health team is offering the Moderna vaccine as well as tests for COVID-19.

All-day June 12 they were at the Beer and Wine Store, from 11:30 A.M. to 1 p.m. today they were at the Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre, and the mobile clinic will be at various other locations in the days to come:

June 15: DJ’s Specialties area, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

June 16: Arnaitok Arena (Old Arena) parking lot, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

June 17: White Row, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

June 21: Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“For some people, getting to the Cadet Hall is still a signicant barrier to participate in surveillence testing, so this makes it easier for people to get tested,” said Patterson.

Mary River Mine outbreak

The outbreak at Baffinland’s Mary River Mine, which started early May with first cases detected May 2 is nearing it’s end.

The B. strain, later known as the Delta variant was detected among the cases. The majority of these cases and mining staff at the onset of the outbreak were flown down south. B.1.1.7, now known as Alpha, which is the variant in the Iqaluit outbreak was also found at Mary River.

The Department of Health stated June 14 “There have been 106 cases diagnosed on site. The Department of Health is aware of 35 additional cases diagnosed after leaving the site.”

Prior to the staff being flown down south, Dr. Patterson said there were about “two or three dozen” active cases. “To the point where they were transferring people down south or sending them home.”

“We don’t keep stats on transmission that happens outside of Nunavut,” Dr. Patterson later said on Monday’s update. “Right now what’s happening at Mary River is there’s no COVID on-site, there’s been no active COVID on-site since June 5. The last time transmission was confirmed to happen on-site was May 29.”

So far, 15,808 people in Nunavut have been fully vaccinated and a further 2,201 have received their first vaccine.

As of June 14, there were “just over 50” individuals currently in isolation in Iqaluit, according to Patterson.

Starting today, fully vaccinated individuals will be able skip southern isolation after applying for an exemption.