Downtown Iqaluit, Nunavut, is shown after a 2 p.m. sunset on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Nunavut’s capital city is under a strict lockdown after its first case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic was reported Wednesday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Trante

Downtown Iqaluit, Nunavut, is shown after a 2 p.m. sunset on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Nunavut’s capital city is under a strict lockdown after its first case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic was reported Wednesday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Trante

‘Be prepared and not scared:’ Iqaluit locks down after reporting first COVID-19 case

Nunavut’s capital city is under a lockdown after detecting its first case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic

Nunavut’s capital city is under a lockdown after detecting its first case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The infection was reported Wednesday night and on Thursday morning all schools, non-essential businesses and government offices in Iqaluit, a city of about 8,000 people, were closed.

Canadian North, Nunavut’s main airline, has said the infected individual is one of its employees in Iqaluit. The company would not comment on the employee’s role in the company.

Nunavut requires travellers to isolate for 14 days prior to entering the territory, but essential workers are exempt.

The territory’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said the person is an exempted worker who has been in the territory for 16 days and started showing symptoms two days ago. The person was tested Wednesday at Iqaluit’s public health centre and the positive result came back about 8 p.m.

Given the timeline, Patterson said, it’s possible the person contracted COVID-19 in Iqaluit.

“We’re not certain how it got into Iqaluit … they were already here for 13 or 14 days when the symptoms started, so it’s not certain that they brought COVID into the territory.”

It’s Nunavut’s only active case of COVID-19.

But Patterson said the city’s public-health team has identified more than 10 people as contacts with the positive case and contact tracing is ongoing.

People from other communities who had been in Iqaluit and left the city on or after April 13 are also required to isolate for 14 days.

Indoor public gatherings in the city are banned and gatherings in homes are restricted to household members plus five people.

Patterson said businesses and workplaces in Rankin Inlet and the Baffin Island region can stay open with strict social distancing. Elementary schools in those areas can remain open at full capacity, but middle schools and high schools must move to a mix of in-class and at-home learning.

The Moderna vaccine is available to all Iqaluit residents 18 and up. To date, more than 3,400 people in the city have received a first dose and 2,000 have had two doses.

Premier Joe Savikataaq urged people who hadn’t received the vaccine to get it as soon as possible.

“For months, we have been asking Nunavummiut to be prepared and not scared. Now is the time to prove that,” Savikataaq said.

Patterson said a sample of the positive test is being sent to a southern lab to analyze for variants of concern, but results likely won’t come back for a week.

A public hearing on Baffinland’s expansion of its Mary River mine being held in Iqaluit this week has also been suspended.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board said residents from other communities in town for the hearing have been asked to isolate in their hotel rooms and wait for further instructions.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The red rock garden in Williams Lake was filled with new rocks in recognition of the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Red rocks left as reminder of missing and murdered local women in Williams Lake

May 5 marked the National Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Kari, a 12-year-old Belted Galloway, produced triplets Wednesday, April 27. Mother and babies are doing fine. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).
Holy cow: triplets born in 100 Mile House

Linda and Don Savjord witnessed a rare experience last week at Bridge Creek Ranch.

Fireman’s Fairways between Chimney and Felker lakes is slated to open soon, following a clean up work bee this Sunday, May 9 starting at 10 a.m. (Photo submitted)
Cleanup slated for Sunday, May 9 at Fireman’s Fairways Golf Course

Fireman’s Fairway is an 11-hole, par 3 course, opened in 1994

A vial of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The White House says it is making plans to share up to 60 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 11,075 since the pandemic began

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Most Read