Skip to content

Nunavummiut Agnico Eagle employees returning to work; restrictions easing in Iqaluit

Territorial mask mandate to stay in effect with increased COVID-19 importation risk
Nunavut Health Minister Lorne Kusugak encouraged Nunavummiut June 30 to continue following public health measures, as “everyone has a role to play in keeping our communities healthy.” Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

The first Nunavummiut workers have been heading back to work at Agnico Eagle mines in Nunavut for more than a week now, according to Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, at the June 30 Government of Nunavut COVID-19 update.

It will be just under three weeks more before the outbreak in Iqaluit is declared over, while the outbreak at Baffinland’s Mary River Mine is considered ongoing.

“There’s still one case in mid-June. There’s some uncertainty on whether or not this case is a direct link, (or) transmission on-site versus getting infected in the south. Once that is sorted out we can figure out when the outbreak is officially over,” said Patterson.

There have been no cases on-site for more than three weeks at this point.

Public health measures will be easing in the capital starting July 2.

While fewer people are getting tested in the capital, Patterson encourages people to continue to get swabbed and tested when contacted by Iqaluit Public Health, or if there has been a chance for exposure to COVID-19.

“There has been a decline in the number of people being swabbed in the city. Fewer cases and increasing vaccination numbers has contributed to a feeling that testing and screening for COVID is not necessary,” said Patterson.

Mobile clinics for testing and vaccinations are ongoing in the capital.

Screening for individuals who have a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is also encouraged, from rotational workers from the south, staff or residents of congregate living settings and individuals who work with the general public such as cashiers or receptionists.

The territorial mask mandate will remain in place as the risk of introducing COVID-19 to a community is lower when it is in place, and in light of allowing exemptions for fully vaccinated people to skip southern isolation.

“We’re still at risk of introduction and in some ways that’s increasing as we allow more people to travel,” said Patterson.

When looking at other places which have highly vaccinated populations which have lifted their mask mandates, Patterson said, such as Israel, they have had to reintroduce mask mandates following an increase of cases after it was lifted.

Both Health Minister Lorne Kusugak and Patterson reiterated the need for the public to continue following public health measures.

“It’s critical everyone stays vigilant and follows public health measures, everyone has a role to play in keeping our communities healthy,” said Kusugak.

Anyone who has missed the initial Pfizer clinics can call their local health centre for an appointment.

“By late July almost three quarters of Nunavummiut will have had the opportunity to receive two doses of vaccines and we will be able further ease public health measures,” said Patterson.

There are no people currently in isolation in Iqaluit.

There have been 262 recoveries since this outbreak started in April.

A total of 16,284 people in Nunavut, including rotational workers, have gotten both doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. A further 4,971 people have gotten their first dose.