Nunavut to continue surveillance testing for COVID-19 in Iqaluit

·2 min read
The view of the Qamutiq building from in front of Building 263. While COVID-19 restrictions eased in Iqaluit on Thursday, the Nunavut health department said it will continue to carry out surveillance testing in the capital.  (Vincent Robinet/CBC - image credit)
The view of the Qamutiq building from in front of Building 263. While COVID-19 restrictions eased in Iqaluit on Thursday, the Nunavut health department said it will continue to carry out surveillance testing in the capital. (Vincent Robinet/CBC - image credit)

While COVID-19 restrictions eased in Iqaluit on Thursday, the Nunavut health department said it will continue to carry out surveillance testing in the capital.

The Department of Health held its first walk-up screening in a mobile van parked at the Old Public Health building Wednesday and has several more such sessions planned.

Danarae Sommerville, a communications specialist with the Nunavut Department of Health, said surveillance testing helps identify individuals infected with the virus before they develop symptoms or who are asymptomatic.

"Testing someone more than once at certain points in time ensures the virus can be identified, especially when the date of exposure is not known," she said in an email. "The test can be negative one day, and then the person becomes positive a few days later. This focused and repeat testing allows us to identify infection early and prevent further spread of the virus."

At a news conference on Monday, Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory's chief public health officer, said surveillance testing is important because health teams are never certain they have caught all active cases.

"We do those surveillance or screening events to try and swab people who we are not aware of," he said. "Overall, about 12 or 13 per cent of our cases have been identified through surveillance."

Patterson also announced youth in Nunavut will now be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Starting June 15, Nunavummiut aged 12 to 17 will be eligible for doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the same vaccine used in youth vaccination campaigns in N.W.T. and Yukon.

Mass clinics in Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet and Clyde River from June 15-17 will start off the vaccination campaign, while Iqaluit will hold its own mass clinic at the Iqaluit Curling Club from June 16-19.

At this time, the mobile surveillance testing van will be offering COVID-19 tests at the following locations.

  • Saturday, June 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Beer & Wine Store area

  • Tuesday, June 8 from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Nanook School Parking Lot

  • Thursday, June 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Joamie School Parking Lot

The health department will be announcing additional sites as they receive confirmation.

Anyone who has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call the hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately isolate at home for 14 days. Please do not go to the health centre in person, the release states.

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