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Premier self-isolates in his cabin after flying from Winnipeg

“I flew into the territory with my own plane, and did isolate for 14 days alone at my cabin," says Premier Joe Savikataaq. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

Premier Joe Savikataaq has been self-isolating at his cabin outside of Arviat, after retrieving his personal float plane from Winnipeg. Since March, all Nunavummiut have had to self-isolate for 14 days at a southern isolation hub before entering Nunavut. However, the premier received the approval from Nunavut’s Department of Health to self-isolate at his cabin.

On July 20, the premier wrote on his Facebook, “I flew into the territory with my own plane, and did isolate for 14 days alone at my cabin. I emailed to develop my travel plan, based on my very specific conditions as I flew into Nunavut on my private aircraft.”

After spending two nights in Winnipeg, the premier flew his plane directly to his cabin situated 85 kilometres outside of Arviat. He has been self-isolating there from July 4 to 18.

“The premier was specifically treated as we have some other private pilots; flying in their planes trying to manage the risk in a way that works for everybody,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

At least a couple of dozen isolation plans, which do not require individuals to isolate in GN designated hub, have been approved by the Department of Health amid Covid-19.

Patterson said asking private pilots, for example from Greenland, to fly down south to isolate for two weeks and come back to Nunavut is “not appropriate and may actually increase their risk.”

“It's less risky if they can isolate outside of town,” he said.

Besides private pilots, some individuals have received “compassionate exemptions” due to a “very serious illness in the family,” explained Patterson.

“So we've worked with people to find isolation plans that work for them in that circumstance,” said the doctor.

On July 20, Savikataaq stated his isolation plan ensured "a spot was open at the Winnipeg hub for another traveller" and saved public dollars.

"Quarantining at the Winnipeg isolation hub would not have worked in my case, as I wasn't travelling commercially, and wasn't able to guarantee all necessary public health measures between the hub and the private airport," Savikataaq wrote on social media.

Premier is expecting to return to Iqaluit mid-week.