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Nunavut government opens 2nd isolation hotel in Winnipeg

The Nunavut government opened a second isolation hotel for medical travellers in Winnipeg last week, according to the territory's premier.

Idea for Iqaluit isolation hotel not off the table, but 'it's not in play right now,' says health minister

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said Monday that the government has opened up a second isolation hotel to address the backlog for medical travellers. (Beth Brown/CBC )

The Nunavut government opened a second isolation hotel for medical travellers in Winnipeg last week, according to the territory's premier.

The second isolation hotel opened last week for people waiting to complete the 14-day isolation in order to return to the territory, Premier Joe Savikataaq announced Monday at the Legislative Assembly. At a press conference last week, the government said it was working on this second location as there was up to a three-week wait for people to start isolating.

Savikataaq said there are 170 rooms available as of Monday. He said the government wants to accommodate the backlogs for medical travel. He didn't specify which hotel has been added; Nunavummiut had only been isolating at Hilton Hotel in Winnipeg up until now.

"We hope to have everyone currently on the waiting list ... into isolation by early this week," he said.

Health Minister George Hickes said the idea of creating an Iqaluit isolation hub is not off the table.

"It's always going to be on the table, but it's not in play right now," said Hickes.

Hickes later added that on top of the isolation hotels for general travellers and medical travellers, there was an additional hub in Winnipeg exclusively for contract workers — though he later clarified, saying that hub had closed down.

"To reclarify or clarify my own words ... I was just informed we've actually closed the construction hub in Winnipeg," Hickes said. 

He said the small number of construction workers that are coming up to Nunavut are isolating in the general travellers' isolation hotel, "now that capacity has been dealt with medical travellers." 

Officials with the Nunavut government updated its residents on the territory's response to COVID-19 Monday from the Legislative Assembly. 

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. As of Monday, the government website states there are 225 people being investigated by public health for symptoms. In total, 1,719 have been investigated. 

A public health emergency is extended until Aug. 6.

On Friday, the Department of Education released its plan for reopening schools. As long as there remains no COVID-19 cases in Nunavut, students will return to school as usual with increased cleaning and fewer group activities. 

Three presumptive cases announced this month at Mary River Mine near Pond Inlet have all been confirmed negative by an Ontario lab.

The press conference will also play on local cable, on channel 233, and will air at 4 p.m. ET on the CBC radio show Tusaajaksat.

Missed the press conference? Watch it here: 

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