Health officials in Nunavik say there are now six cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Ullivik, a Montreal residence that hosts medical travellers from the region. (File photo)

Six cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Nunavik residence in Montreal

Centre has administered 200 screening tests and put all residents in isolation

By Sarah Rogers

Health officials in Nunavik say there are now six cases of COVID-19 confirmed in a Montreal residence that hosts medical travellers from the region.

These active cases at the Ullivik patient residence include both residents and staff. The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services would not say how many patients were infected.

On Jan. 13, the health board announced five cases of the virus detected among Nunavimmiut outside of the region, some of whom were patients staying at Ullivik.

The health board has since put the centre’s residents into isolation and done extensive screening of the residents and staff at Ullivik.

“A few staff were found to have positive tests and were asked to isolate,” said health board spokesperson Josée Levesque on Wednesday. “They had not had significant contact with any Ullivik users.”

All residents who tested positive for COVID-19 will complete their isolation period in the south, Levesque said.

Residents who were not in contact with those individuals will be able to travel home to Nunavik, she said, where they’ll be required to do the routine 14-day quarantine at home.

Dan Amagualik arrived in Montreal from Inukjuak on Dec. 31 and has been staying at Ullivik ever since, accompanying his pregnant girlfriend.

Amagualik tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-January. He doesn’t know where he was infected with the virus but suspects it was from other people at Ullivik.

“Ullivik is taking this matter very seriously and taking extra measures to keep [anyone] who is infected in isolation, indoors,” Amagualik said. “They added extra security in the building making sure COVID-19 patients stay in place.”

But Amagualik said some residents are being given special privileges, while all residents are supposed to be isolating.

“Although I had been given full protective gear such as gown, more face masks and gloves, I haven’t been allowed to go for fresh air, while smokers are allowed to go outside to smoke,” Amagualik said.

Amagualik is set to finish his isolation this weekend, at which point he said the health board will send him home.

That would normally be good news, except that Amagualik’s partner isn’t scheduled to deliver their baby until March. He hopes to return to Montreal in late February so he can be there for the birth.

Ullivik has 91 rooms and 143 beds to accommodate medical travellers and their escorts and often operates at full capacity. Since the outbreak, the centre has only been accepting residents in need of urgent medical care.

Since the first cases were identified, the health board said it has administered 200 screening tests at the facility.

The health board is asking anyone who travelled from Ullivik to Nunavik since Jan. 11 to take extra care, follow quarantine measures and contact their local health care centre if they notice any symptoms of COVID-19.

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