Iqaluit’s COVID-19 cases soar to 13

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A man wearing a mask to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) passes a stop sign written in English, French and Inuktitut in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada on November 18, 2020. (Natalie Maerzluft / Reuters File Photo)

Iqaluit’s COVID-19 caseload soared overnight to 13 from a single case the day before.

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq announced the increase in a tweet Friday morning, shortly before the Government of Nunavut was scheduled to address the sudden arrival of the disease in the territory’s capital on Wednesday and the sweeping public health restrictions it imposed in response.

All of Nunavut’s known cases are now in Iqaluit — after the territory’s largest city reported its first case on Wednesday. Nunavut had not seen any new cases reported since late March, when the last of the people infected with the disease in Arviat — the territory’s previous hotspot — had recovered.

Canadian North confirmed Thursday that one of the airline’s employees in Iqaluit had tested positive for COVID-19.

The surge in cases announced Friday pushes the territory’s total number of cases to 408. Four deaths have been reported in Nunavut.

Iqaluit had avoided COVID-19 since the global pandemic began more than a year ago. But other Nunavut communities, including Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove and Sanikiluaq reported cases between last November and March.

On Thursday, the government identified the Storehouse bar and grill as a site of “potential COVID-19 exposure” and encouraged anyone who had been to the establishment since April 8 to monitor themselves for symptoms and schedule a test if they showed any.

The government also asked anyone who has travelled outside of Iqaluit since April 7 to immediately isolate themselves for 14 days.

Savikataaq reported Friday that 14,035 Nunavummiut have received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine and that 10,434 have received both doses, which are required in order to be considered fully vaccinated.