A security guard working at an isolation hub for Nunavummiut in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Nunavut Department of Health issued a news release on Wednesday afternoon saying that it had been advised of the incident by Ottawa Public Health.

The staff member works at the Residence Inn on Walkley Road in Ottawa. It’s one of the isolation centres in the South that houses Nunavummiut who travel to Ottawa for medical, work or other reasons.

“The Department of Health is working quickly with Ottawa Public Health to identify both potential contacts at the Residence Inn and any possible exposure in Nunavut,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, in the statement.

“We are currently establishing what risk, if any, there is to Nunavummiut and we will begin contact tracing in territory if necessary.”

It’s believed that the staff member was likely infectious while working shifts on Aug. 16, 17, 18 and 19.

Staff at isolation centres are required to wear masks while working, the statement said, which “would help limit the risk of transmission.”

Residents may not be able to return home yet

“We are discussing with Ottawa Public Health whether this positive case will require those scheduled to return home in the coming days to remain in isolation until they can be cleared as contacts and confirmed COVID-free,” said Health Minister George Hickes in the statement.

Nunavut residents who were in isolation at the Residence Inn on those dates and have already returned home are asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and adhere to strict physical distancing protocols. 

People who are in isolation at the hotel have been told about the situation, the statement says.

“Outreach has begun for in-territory contacts.”

The Nunavut government has been paying millions to house residents at isolation centres in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Yellowknife, before they return to the territory. As of Aug. 9, it had spent nearly $21 million for more than 3,200 residents to quarantine in the centres — 1,200 of which had stayed in Ottawa.

Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19. There have been three presumptive cases at the Mary River Mine near Pond Inlet, but all were subsequently deemed negative.

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