More COVID-19 cases found in North; Nunavut shuts some schools, mandates masks

Another case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in western Nunavut to add to the territory's three other infections.

The cases prompted Dr. Michael Patterson, chief public health officer, to close the Kivalliq region's schools, make masks mandatory in public and restrict flights starting Sunday.

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"Considering there are now two cases in the region, we have decided to tighten restrictions and increase public health measures across the Kivalliq," Patterson said Friday.

Patterson said an Arviat resident returned to the town of about 2,600 earlier this month after spending 14 days in mandatory isolation in a Winnipeg hotel.

Anyone who leaves the territory must complete a 14-day isolation period in a hotel in Southern Canada before flying back.

Seven days after returning home, the resident became ill and was flown to Winnipeg for medical treatment, where a COVID-19 test came back positive.

Patterson said the Arviat resident was not tested for COVID-19 in Arviat because they didn't have symptoms at the time.

An earlier positive case in Rankin Inlet, also in the Kivalliq region, completed isolation in Winnipeg as well and has a similar travel history to the Arviat case.

Patterson said the common travel history is concerning, but it's not certain how the two were exposed to the novel coronavirus after isolating.

"There's no known link right now, but we can't say that there isn't one," he said. "The exposure happened after isolation or at the end of isolation."

Nunavut had been free of COVID-19 until two weeks ago.

In the Northwest Territories, four more cases of the illness have been confirmed -- all related to the same household in Fort Smith.

A statement from the territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kondala, said all contacts have been identified and there is no risk to the public.

"This is an instance of household transmission related to the case of COVID-19 in Fort Smith announced on Nov. 11," Kondala said. "This was connected to travel outside the N.W.T."

The N.W.T. has had a total of 15 cases, five of which are active.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

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