Coronavirus

NWT orders immediate isolation for recent Kivalliq travellers

Last modified: November 17, 2020 at 7:19pm


The Northwest Territories on Tuesday evening ordered a broader range of recent travellers from Nunavut to isolate immediately, responding to another surge in confirmed Nunavut Covid-19 cases.

The NWT has already closed its travel bubble with Nunavut. From 12pm on Tuesday, all incoming travellers from Nunavut were told to self-isolate for two weeks and follow all restrictions that would apply to any other new arrival.

Tuesday evening’s advisory goes further, targeting travellers who came from Nunavut to the NWT at any point in the past two weeks – before the bubble closed.

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Effective immediately, anyone in the NWT who was in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut at any time in the past 14 days must isolate immediately.

They must remain isolated until 14 days have passed since their arrival in the NWT.

The Kivalliq includes the communities of Arviat, Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Naujaat, Rankin Inlet, and Whale Cove.

Of Nunavut’s 60 confirmed cases to date, 46 have been reported in Arviat, eight in Whale Cove, and four in Rankin Inlet (alongside two in Sanikiluaq).

Tuesday evening’s order expands a similar instruction issued on Monday that targeted travellers from a smaller number of Nunavut communities.

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The move indicates concern in the NWT that reports of apparent community spread in Arviat, and the appearance of cases elsewhere in the Kivalliq, could pose a threat to residents of the Northwest Territories.

Community spread of the kind seen in Arviat is precisely what the NWT has been working to avoid in its own communities for months, largely by restricting travel.

As well as isolating immediately, travellers included in Tuesday evening’s notice must submit an isolation plan to Protect NWT within 24 hours (call 8-1-1 for assistance).

If an affected traveller is staying with others in the NWT, those they are staying with must also isolate and cannot have face-to-face contact with anyone else.

Cases of Covid-19 in Nunavut as of 1pm MT on November 17, 2020
Cases of Covid-19 in Nunavut as of 1pm MT on November 17, 2020.

Medical travel can continue but those travellers must self-isolate when not at their appointments.

“If Nunavut residents are traveling back to Nunavut within this period, they are able to proceed to the airport, but they must wear non-medical masks and maintain physical distancing,” the NWT government said.

Travel into NWT is dropping

Nunavut reported 34 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday alone. At the start of November, Nunavut had yet to confirm a single case.

The NWT did not report any new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday. The territory has five active cases – in a single Fort Smith household – and has reported a total of 15 confirmed cases to date.

The number of travellers from Nunavut to the NWT in recent days was not immediately available.

However, a spokesperson for Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola told Cabin Radio travel into the NWT, more broadly, was at its lowest level “essentially since the pandemic began.”

Figures compiled last week show numbers entering the NWT by road or air have been steadily declining.

In the first week of November, 312 people entered via Highway 1 from Alberta (the only NWT highway open to incoming travel at the time) and 557 passengers entered by air. Where travellers came from was not reported.

By comparison, even in mid-October the NWT was recording more than 500 weekly incoming road travellers and more than 700 arrivals by air.

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