Nunavut marks first death from Omicron variant as cases climb to 177


At a news conference in Iqaluit Tuesday, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok had some bad news for Nunavummiut – the first casualty of the Omicron variant.

“I am very saddened to begin this announcement on a somber note,” he says. “Last night one Nunavummiut passed away due to COVID-19. This is our first casualty in this wave.

“My thoughts are with the family and the community.”

Akeeagok didn’t say what community the person was from pending notification of the family.

Nunavut now has 177 cases of COVID-19 – and testing results show the majority are the Omicron variant.

Help may be on the way to deal with it.

While the federal government has been quick to offer supplies throughout the crisis, Nunavut needed health professionals.

According to Akeeagok, Canada is providing three additional nurses, all with previous experience working in Nunavut – and nine contract tracers from Statistics Canada.

There have been major changes to Nunavut’s Covid response in the last week. Teachers are back at school preparing for full classes to return next week in communities with few or no cases.

For communities struggling with outbreaks – classes will be reduced to 50 per cent in size and half of the work will be done at home.

Lab testing has also improved and caught up so that tests results are reported as soon as they are received.

Also an update from Ottawa where elders at the Embassy West, a lodge where Nunavummiut can stay for medical or other appointments, have recovered.

There are active COVID-19 cases in 17 of Nunavut’s 25 communities. With more testing now available, that number is likely to rise.

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.