End of mandatory isolation for vaccinated persons traveling to Nunavut

The new measure will be in effect for at least four weeks before authorities assess whether it will lead to further easing.

Anyone fully protected by the vaccine, two weeks after receiving the second dose of Health Canada-approved vaccine, will be able to receive a waiver letter to avoid isolation in the South and return home.This was announced at a press conference on Monday by the chief physician of health of Nunavut, Michael Patterson.

Travelers will need to file an exemption form with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer before traveling to avoid going through the isolation ward.

This image shows Nunavumiut preparing to begin its quarantine in an isolation ward in Ottawa in July 2020.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Matisse Harvey

For 14 months, these quarantine centers, set up in hotels in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife, have been mandatory for most Nunavut residents wishing to return to the territory. They must stay there for 14 days before returning.

As of June 2, the Ministry of Health has recorded about 19,000 cases of isolation.

In an email, the ministry clarifies that the isolation wards have prevented 32 infected people from entering the territory since December.

No exception for partially vaccinated travelers

The new measure also applies to people traveling for medical reasons and those looking to move from one community to another in Nunavut. Starting Monday, these travelers will be able to request a quarantine waiver so as not to be isolated in the destination community.

Parents traveling with their children who have not been vaccinated will not benefit from the benefits announced on Monday. The same is true for people who have received a single dose of the vaccine or have not received it.

The first dose only partially protects– recalls Dr. Patterson. He adds that health authorities are monitoring the development of the Delta variant, which is about 40% more transferable than the Alpha variant, which still dominates the UK.

Answering a question at a press conference about why the authorities did not require a test before entering the territory, the chief sanitary doctor mentioned that such an approach would increase the waiting time for travelers and, possibly, the duration of some quarantines.

Hotel parking in Ottawa.

For more than a year, Nunavut residents living in the Kikiktaaluk region in the eastern part of the territory had to cross Ottawa in transit when returning to the territory.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Matisse Harvey

60% of adults are fully vaccinated

Dr. Patterson Says Risk Of COVID-19 Infection In Nunavut Will Remain Low as the situation improves in the south

We felt it was time to allow fully vaccinated people to travel., he said.

With the large proportion of adults vaccinated in the territory, authorities are reassuring that the community will not need to impose such stringent containment measures as in Iqaluit if the virus reappears in the future.

As of May 31, about 60% of adults have received two doses of Moderna vaccine. Teens 12-17 years old will receive their first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in mid-June.

Syringe in a vial with the Modern vaccine.

As of May 31, about 15,000 Nunavumiut over 18 have received two doses of Moderna vaccine.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Matisse Harvey

Since the exception applies to all fully vaccinated Canadians, the Nunavut government also expects tourists to visit the area this summer.

From a public health perspective, we continue to advise you to refrain from nonessential travel as the risk still exists.– reminded the chief sanitary doctor.

Wearing a mandatory mask and removing health restrictions

On Monday, health authorities also announced the lifting of a number of restrictions in Iqaluit and Kinngayte.

Starting Thursday, the restrictions on gatherings in Kinngate will increase to 100 outside and 15 inside, excluding members of the affected household. Schools and kindergartens in the area will be able to reopen. Teaching will be in person for elementary school students and in a hybrid way for high school students.

In Iqaluit, businesses offering personal services, including hair and beauty salons, will be able to reopen their doors on Friday.

On Monday, wearing a mask will also be compulsory in all communities on the site at any time when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

As of Monday, there is only one case on site.

Our COVID-19 file: what you need to know

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