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Nunavut government won't release southern location of COVID-19 patient

A medical traveller who spent the last six weeks in the South and tested positive for COVID-19 is ‘doing well’ and does not pose a risk to Nunavummiut, says the territory’s chief medical officer.

Medical traveller and staffer at an Ottawa seniors centre tested positive over the weekend

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, says he will not disclose the personal information of a medical traveller who tested positive for COVID-19. The patient remains quarantined in the South. (CBC)

The Nunavut government says that right now, it won't release any details about a medical travel patient from the territory who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said during a news conference Tuesday that Nunavut residents are not at risk because that person was in the South for six weeks. The person is well and stable, he said.  

The Health department announced the case in a news release Monday.

"It is an invasion of the individual's privacy," Patterson said. "Right now, we are not concerned that this raises the risk for other Nunavummiut. Because of that, we are not going to discuss the details of this case. If we find as part of contact tracing that there is a risk, then we will disclose it at that time."

"I don't want to needlessly contribute to blaming or stigma," Patterson said. 

Missed the news conference? Watch it here: 

The long weekend saw another person with a connection to Nunavut test positive for COVID-19 — a staffer who works at an Ottawa seniors home that serves Inuit.  

Risk for elders at Embassy West 'quite small'

Embassy West Senior Living reported Saturday that one of its staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. 

The care home in Ottawa is testing all staff and patients. Of at least 80 per cent of those tests that have already come back, all are negative. The rest of those results are expected by Wednesday morning.

"Embassy West has been doing an exemplary job of minimizing the risk," Patterson said. "We're pleased with how they've responded so far."

He said it's believed the worker did not come in contact with any patients and the risk of exposure is "quite small." He added there is no reason to transfer a loved one out of the care home that has the services they need.

For now, residents at Embassy West are isolating in their rooms. The staff member who tested positive does not work in front line care.

To residents worried about the risk of medical travel, Patterson said it's important to keep scheduled appointments when they are for critical health care needs. Many people in Canada are missing essential healthcare out of fear, he said. 

"For many that are still travelling South, the threat to their health if they delay or cancel medical care is greater than the threat from COVID-19," Patterson said. 

Premier Joe Savikataaq said hospitals and boarding homes have strict protocols in place to limit the risks of contracting COVID-19.  

As of Monday, there were 261 Nunavut residents being testing for symptoms of COVID-19.

The government expects to give an update on in-territory diagnostics at a news conference on Thursday. Patterson said he will have more to share then about whether a GeneXpert machine can be used to test for COVID-19 in Rankin Inlet. The machine is usually used to test for tuberculosis and requires approval from Health Canada before it can be used to test for COVID-19.

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