North

Iqaluit outbreak declared over, says chief public health officer

The COVID-19 outbreak in Iqaluit swelled to 253 cases since April 15. Current restrictions, including mandatory masks, will stay in place for now, says Nunavut's chief public health officer.

Current restrictions, including mandatory masks, will stay in place for now: chief public health officer

Iqaluit, pictured in July. The outbreak in the city is over, but current restrictions will remain in place for the time being. (David Gunn/CBC)

The COVID-19 outbreak in Iqaluit that swelled to 253 cases since April 15 has been declared over.

As of Monday, it's been 28 days since anyone had COVID-19, said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer in a news release Tuesday.

"Since there have been no further cases, we can now declare the outbreak in the city over," he said.

Iqaluit's outbreak was Nunavut's second largest outbreak of the pandemic. This first began in Arviat in November and grew to 339 cases and one death. There are currently no cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut or the N.W.T.

Meanwhile, an outbreak in Yukon, which in absolute terms is the North's largest of the pandemic, and which began after a large number of people had already been vaccinated, appears to be winding down

In Iqaluit, current public health measures, like mandatory masks, will stay in place, Patterson said. 

For the next two weeks, officials will continue to monitor the situation. If there are no more cases identified, restrictions may be further eased.

A view of Iqaluit from the Causeway in 2021. Masks will continue to be mandatory for at least another two weeks. (David Gunn/CBC)

COVID-19 testing will be available at the Cadet Hall Monday to Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. until Friday. The mobile testing van is also available Monday to Saturday around Iqaluit and will be available until July 31. 

There are ongoing vaccination clinics across the territory.

Restrictions began to be eased last week, when it had been more than two weeks since there have been active cases in the Iqaluit. 

Some of the previous cases were earlier confirmed by Patterson to be the B117 variant of COVID-19.

As well, following a superspreader event at a local karaoke bar, health officials pleaded with residents to stop "visiting" — the ubiquitous northern custom of dropping by friends' and relatives' houses which can often be the only way to pass the time.

"I encourage everyone to continue following public health restrictions, wash your hands frequently, stay home when sick and call the COVID-19 hotline at 1888-975-8601 if you have symptoms," Patterson said.

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