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Five Nunavut elders test positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa senior living facility

The Government of Nunavut said Wednesday that five elders tested positive for COVID-19 at the Embassy West West seniors living facility in Ottawa. A bilingual staff member is being sent "to ensure our Elders receive the best possible care and support."

Nunavut to send Inuktut-speaking staff member to help with ‘communications and response efforts'

The Government of Nunavut said Wednesday that five elders tested positive for COVID-19 at the Embassy West West seniors living facility in Ottawa. (CBC)

The Nunavut health department is sending a staff member bilingual in Inuktut-English to the Embassy West seniors living facility in Ottawa where five Nunavut elders have tested positive for COVID-19.

Nunavut Health Minister John Main said in a news release that the staff member is being sent "to ensure our Elders receive the best possible care and support."

Embassy West provides care for elders with complex needs, specifically, dementia. It cares for about 40 elders from Nunavut.

The facility first declared a suspected outbreak on Dec. 30. According to Main, this is the first outbreak the facility has experienced in its resident population.

"There have also been added provisions to allow family members to assist with caregiving, under strict COVID-19 safety protocols," he said in the release.

Main added the health department, which will receive regular updates from the facility, will provide additional support to the facility as needed.

Last week, Main said that while Embassy West had some interpreters available, his department was seeking to add more interpreter support.

"Many elders down there do not have family or essential caregivers in the Ottawa area and as such, we are arranging travel for essential caregivers who are able and willing to assist their loved ones during this time," he told CBC News. 

Last fall, families of some residents called on the Nunavut government to send the elders back to Nunavut.

They said they're concerned about the elders' safety because of the lack of Inuktitut-speaking staff at the facility.

Main said elder care in Nunavut was an "active topic" among MLAs and ministers but did not provide additional details.

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