A heartbroken father from Kugluktuk wants the Government of Nunavut to rethink its self-isolation orders after his infant son died recently while the two were quarantined at a Yellowknife hotel.
Jason Agligoetok’s son Jackson began treatment at Stanton Territorial Hospital for medical issues in early March. A month-long hospital stay followed.
Agligoetok and his son were directed to self-isolate for two weeks at Yellowknife’s Explorer Hotel when Jackson was discharged from the hospital, he told NNSL Media in an interview Wednesday.
As per Nunavut’s COVID-19 orders, travellers coming back into the territory must first self-isolate for two weeks at one of four designated city centres – Yellowknife, Edmonton, Winnipeg or Ottawa – before returning home.
About halfway through the mandatory isolation at the downtown hotel, Agligoetok said he put his son to bed. When Agligoetok awoke, his son was unconscious.
CBC North first reported on the death earlier this week. The broadcaster reported Agligoetok wished the Nunavut government would have let him and his son come home immediately after being discharged from the hospital, instead of having them self-isolate in the capital.
He expanded on the comments to NNSL Media.
“It would be fair enough to not go through isolation before we came home,” said Agligoetok.
In general, Agligoetok said he felt supported by the Government of Nunavut during his quarantine in Yellowknife.
But he wants change.
If a father or mother were to be left in the capital with their children in similar circumstances, Agligoetok said the government should allow them to come home immediately — then self-isolate at home.
Nunavut health minister George Hickes told CBC North that Jackson’s death isn’t being deemed a death while under the care of the government because it occurred at a Yellowknife hotel not operated by the government.
NWT coroner investigating death
NWT chief coroner Cathy Menard confirmed an investigation into the death is underway, but stressed it’s not related to COVID-19.
“We are following the same process that is followed for every death that occurs when a person is outside of their own territory, province or country,” stated Menard in an email Wednesday.
“Given that the investigation is ongoing, and also to ensure that people are not alarmed without substantive reason, I encourage you to not speculate that this death investigation is a result of the current health pandemic.”
“I will be looking at all aspects and factors of the case including the supports the family received during their mandatory self-isolation time period,” she added.
Menard said a post-mortem autopsy has been ordered.
Agligoetok said that will be taking place in Edmonton. “They’re waiting on the preliminary report right now,” he said.
The heartsick father, who was granted a return home in the middle of his self-isolation order, is now back in Kugluktuk, where he’s been receiving condolences and messages of support from friends and family over Facebook.
Agligoetok said he’s completing the self-isolation at home. He’s been asking residents not to visit, going as far as to make the request online before returning to Nunavut.
“I’m following my procedure; not letting anyone come visit.”
In the meantime, Agligoetok is taking to Facebook to share photos of his beloved son Jackson.
“Home but still can’t believe my baby’s gone,” he wrote.