Nunavut suspends travel bubble with N.W.T. following COVID-19 outbreak in Sahtu region

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A Canadian North plane, seen at Iqaluit airport July 2019. The common travel area between N.W.T. and Nunavut has been suspended, effective immediately. (Jordan Konek/CBC - image credit)
A Canadian North plane, seen at Iqaluit airport July 2019. The common travel area between N.W.T. and Nunavut has been suspended, effective immediately. (Jordan Konek/CBC - image credit)

Nunavut has suspended its common travel area with the Northwest Territories following a COVID-19 outbreak in the N.W.T.'s Sahtu region.

According to a news release on Tuesday, Dr. Anne Huang, Nunavut's deputy chief public health officer, says the suspension is effective immediately.

"Following the increased risk of COVID-19 in the N.W.T., we will close our side of the Common Travel Area with the territory beginning today," Huang said in the release.

As of Monday evening, the number of confirmed cases in the N.W.T. inflated to 34, with six probable cases. The initial cluster of cases was linked to a symptomatic person who attended a hand games event in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., in early August.

The community was put under a containment order on Sunday and the chief of that community declared a state of emergency on Monday.

It's not the first time the travel bubble has burst — in May, Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, called for similar restrictions following a COVID-19 outbreak in Yellowknife.

Anyone who is not fully vaccinated with a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine must isolate at the designated isolation hub in Yellowknife for 14 days before travelling to Nunavut, said Huang.

There are some exceptions to this isolation requirement. They include travellers with a same-ticket layover through Yellowknife, vaccinated travellers with unvaccinated dependents 12 years old or younger, "critical workers" with an authorized travel letter, or those granted a compassionate exemption.

Those looking to apply for an exemption to out-of-territory isolation or book isolation in Yellowknife should visit the Nunavut government website for details.

The public health orders in Nunavut also state that when one traveller of a household is required to isolate, all unvaccinated members of that household must also isolate, which means staying in your home for 14 days, and having groceries delivered.

If delivery isn't possible, one isolating member of the household can shop for food once per week.

Anyone who thinks they could have been exposed to COVID-19 should call the COVID hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately isolate at home for 14 days.

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