Twenty-four guests in isolation hub had low-risk contact with COVID-19-positive guard

Nunavummiut who may have been in contact with guard pose no threat to public

The Government of Nunavut released a list of health care positions in Arviat, on Thursday, after Dr. Michael Patterson vowed Monday to look into a claim the hamlet had only one nurse available. (File photo)

By Dustin Patar

The Nunavut Department of Health tracked down 24 people who may have had contact with a guard who worked at an Ottawa isolation hub, who tested positive for COVID-19.

The guard is thought to have been infectious while working at the Residence Inn on Walkley Rd. on Aug. 18 and 19.

The news comes a day after the Department of Health was notified by Ottawa Public Health of the infected individual.

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, described the contact that may have occurred between these 24 Nunavummiut and the infectious guard as “low risk.”

“There’s no evidence that any individual who was in residency at this time is definitely a threat to anyone right now,” said Patterson.

All 24 people the GN identified, who are from six or seven communities in Qiqiktani, are now back in the territory and all but two have been contacted, Patterson said.

“These contacts have been told to self-monitor, they can go about their daily lives but are being asked to avoid gatherings and high-risk facilities such as elders’ homes,” he said.

These people “can still attend most work,” Patterson said, but they must social distance and wash their hands regularly.

Some of the individuals who have been contacted have been referred for testing already. Others with no concerns will be monitored for roughly a week.

Guests currently at the Residence Inn who were scheduled to return to the territory today have been delayed until Sunday, which Patterson says will not create a waiting list.

According to Patterson, guards at the isolation hubs are not tested regularly.

“Testing people without symptoms and without a known exposure is not very productive and causes more false positives and causes more problems than it solves,” he said.

All guards at the isolation hubs are required to wear masks. Patterson said they had received complaints in the past from guests that guards weren’t wearing masks while working at that location.

That was addressed “a few weeks ago,” Patterson said, confirming that the importance of wearing PPE such as gloves and masks was reinforced before the guard was thought to be infectious while at work.

According to the OPH investigation, Patterson said the guard in question wore their mask at all times while working.

Despite the possible exposure, there still remain no cases or proven transmission of COVID-19 in Nunavut, says Patterson.

“Based on the latest public health information, all schools should remain open,” he said.

Similarly, Patterson doesn’t currently believe that these 24 individuals pose a threat that warrants the closing of restaurants or the limiting of gatherings.

“If we react and do the sort of knee jerk, put everybody in isolation, with every event, it quickly becomes unsustainable,” he said.

“That would almost be like trying to live the same way as we were in March and April for the next 12 to 18 months, which is obviously not practical and will do a lot more harm than good.”

At the same time, he did note that there is a takeaway to be had following this announcement.

“Most of us were doing a better job in April and May of maintaining separation and distancing and doing those things that had a dramatic impact on respiratory tract infections,” said Patterson.

“I think we should take it as a moment to reinforce the need to continue those practices.”

Share This Story

(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Unsustainable on

    Knee-jerk reactions? Unstable to isolate? That is what has been going on since March. This guy may have good intentions but this government is such a failure. This course of conduct is going to break the bank and the territory will suffer. No one can leave without a two week jail sentence. No one can visit. Breaking charter rights when people should be able to isolate at home. At least then I’m not exposed to guards and new people entering the hubs. The course of action is not sustainable.

    • Posted by Spot on on

      You are exactly right. It is a sentence, and criminal to demand this. Poor kids, adults, and elders alike. Over something no worse than the flu. Fools that are scared make it worse for everyone. Want to control, add fear.

      • Posted by Troll Liz P on

        Ah, the old “no worse than a flu” lie. The flu kills something like 8500 per year in Canada, 35000 per year in the States. That’s with absolutely no precautions like lockdowns, masks, social distancing.
        Coronavirus has killed nearly 10,000 in Canada in a span of about 6 months, with pretty rigid precautions being taken. It’s killed about 185000 in the States in about 6 months with some precautions taken. Perhaps when there’s a vaccine we can compare it to a flu, but until then, please speak truth, lest you risk recruiting people who are sincere but ignorant and vulnerable. All that aside, there have been some serious breakdowns with the quarantine hubs, and this particular issue isn’t being handled well. Worse yet, there really isn’t anyone to address patients’ concerns.

    • Posted by Mobility Rights on

      Ah, the old “breaking Charter rights” lie. The 2 week quarantine period in no way violates any section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Please look it up, and quote to me the exact part that you believe is being violated.

      • Posted by The Courts Will Rule of Nunavut’s Decisions on

        The quarantine period doesn’t no, but the ban on entry for non-residents, even with a quarantine, is dubious and on the face of it seems to defy constitutionally protected mobility rights.

        Of course, if it is found to be a Section 1 issue it doesn’t really matter. Many provinces will be having their actions in this field examined by the courts in the years to come to see if their actions have been legal.

      • Posted by Its Obvious on

        Oh its the guy who says every post that there are no rights being broken, quote it for me.
        Every other province and territory that had a non-resident prohibition has rescinded that because it is obviously a Charter breach. Nunavut remains alone on this because the Legal Services Board doesn’t seem to want to work and make any challenges. Minimal impairment would see people self-quarantining at home. If they don’t have an option, hotel at home. If they can’t afford a hotel, then Department of Health pays for hotels or denies entry. Nunavut is not a Charter free zone.

        • Posted by Mobility Rights on

          Yes, it is me. Because on every article someone is talking about a Charter breach, and has failed to quote what the violation is.
          I will give you that the non-resident prohibition may violate the Charter, although you’re welcome to apply for jobs in-territory and enter the territory for a job as people have been doing, but the non-resident prohibition is not what the original poster (or other posters of “Charter violations”) was talking about. “No one can leave without a two week jail sentence. No one can visit. Breaking charter rights when people should be able to isolate at home” . He’s referring to the re-entry quarantine and prohibition of visitors, which does not violate Section 6.
          It can only be found to be a Section 1 issue if it is an issue with another Section. It’s highly likely that even if the two week quarantine for residents was deemed a violation of rights, which it’s not, that it would pass the Oakes Test. It’s also very possible that the non-resident prohibition may pass the Oakes Test because it is still possible to move to Nunavut for a job.

  2. Posted by Reality on

    If these contacts can keep going to work and going on with their daily lives, then the isolation hubs are nothing more than theatre. Having someone with Covid working at the hub means that the travellers weren’t isolated from Covid for two weeks, period. If just being cautious in the community at this point is enough for them, it’t enough for anyone. If two weeks of isolation is really thought to be a requirement, it should apply to these contacts as well, and they should have to isolate again for two weeks from their last (known!) exposure to Covid. They’d be angry or resistant to have to isolate again, and many would not comply, and it’s likely because the authorities don’t want to have to enforce compliance that they are making it so loose and casual now that they are back in the territory.

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    “…this government is such a failure”.
    Yeah, the only province or territory in North American without a confirmed case of Covid-19. I think that there are many other places in the world right now that wish their government had been just the type of failure that the GN has been.
    The primary function of any government is to keep the people safe. That is why people submit to any form of government.
    Sure Nunavut is lucky that it can isolate. And yes it does cost a lot of money (and time) to isolate for 14 days. And yes a lot of the procedures and regulations seem silly when there are no cases, but consider that Covid-19 could arrive any day from an asymptomatic carrier. It would likely take 3 – 10 days for people to start getting sick, and probably another day or two for testing to confirm that it was Covid-19.
    By that time a whole community, or even multiple communities would be infected. Covid-19 kills the old first, say goodby to anyone over 80, most people over 70, and at least a quarter of the people over 60. Add in anyone with health issues, especially lung issues (smoking, TB, mold) and that’s another quarter of that group, at least. Maybe more as each community’s health system would be overwhelmed in the first few days.
    Watch Nunavut’s population go from over 35,000 to maybe 25,000 or lower in three months if Covid got into every community. Obviously the armed forces would be called in, but there is only so much that can be done.
    The failure will be if the GN lets Covid-129 into the territory, and if it can’t isolate it and stamp it out right at the start.
    Otherwise we wait for a vaccine, wear a mask, social distance, wash hand, and be vigilant.

    • Posted by C. F. (Frank) May on

      Sir – if indeed “The Old Trapper” is male – I totally concur and could not have said it any better. The GN has screwed up a lot of things and wasted a lot of money, but the cash spent on the isolation hubs is one of the best things that this government has ever done. The money spent this way is quite small compared to the cost that would be incurred if this virus were to reach Nunavut. Thank you for taking the time to write your comment.

    • Posted by Overexaggeration on

      Less than 10,000 people in Canada have died. You’re over exaggerating that somehow Nunavut would double the death rate of the rest of Canada.
      The vast majority of deaths are old people. But Nunavut has the youngest population in Canada.
      Combing FACTS and not conjecture would suggest that very few people would die here.
      Your response is basically no cases and no deaths is success. How many people are going to die because they have had medical travel delayed and canceled? How many are going to develop mental illness from prolonged isolation? How many people are going to be abused and assaulted due to the heavy uptake in alcohol purchases over the pandemic?
      There is an actual health cost to having isolation hubs and not home isolation like every other province and territory. There is also the literal cost of Nunavut spending half its annual budget for hubs when any single MLA or MP can fly back and forth without controls, or when essential workers are not quarantining. Nunavut will get the virus and the only reason it hasn’t yet is blind luck.

      • Posted by Totally agree on

        How many families have been deprived of visiting with their family members when patients are in the south for terminal illnesses and then have to isolate to get home? For zero cases!

        How many Nunvumiut in isolation have been diagnosed with the virus? None reported to date!

        Why are essential workers and MLAs so damn special as they do not need to go through this charade of quarantining?

        There will be a Charter Challenge for mobility rights as this is becoming ridiculous with exceptions being made and rules being bent to accommodate those in authority.

  4. Posted by Tired of the BS on

    Having been in jail. Seen them wear a mask with the security guards noses exposed is not wearing it. Only putting the mask on when a guest is about to walk by the security guard is not safe. The security guard has all his viral infectious particles in the narrow hallway.

    Not a single Nunavut resident has been diagnosed with Covid-19 while serving time in these facilities. Meanwhile patients in there last few days of life have been forced to be in these facilities instead of being with family back home. Then MLAs and so called essential workers are free to go back and forth. This show must end MLAs do your damn jobs and treat us like grown adults already and permit us to self isolate like you.

  5. Posted by Concerned guest at hotel on

    There are proms and cons to everything but when you think about it the reasons why is to prevent and protect the lives of our people. I’ve had to start isolation on August 26 and when we found out about a positive case it is very scary, nervous and feeling anxiety you think about your precious family and friends back home. For the government to put us in a hotel for isolation, 2 weeks feels like a long time but it passes If a person cannot afford to buy food or pay for hotel and travel back home that is a lot and this is not like jail. If a person is not causing any trouble you are not dealing with the RCMP or the courts or put away for months or years. People can drink and smoke here and there is no curfew. The best thing we are doing is protecting lives by practicing these simplest things in life, washing hands, wearing a mask and social distancing.

  6. Posted by CB on

    Mike Patterson and the GN: keep up the great work. Qujannamiiraaluk!

  7. Posted by iqalummiuq on

    Nunavut has the youngest population in Canada. This is correct.
    Nunavut also has the last generation that lived out on the land and moved into the settlements. These are the elders that COVID will kill. If they die, so does all the knowledge they possess.
    Sad to see the careless comments for the elderly.

    • Posted by Elder’s have their special housing on

      No self respecting family member will visit an elderly family member to place them at risk. To say they will all die is overboard. The elders facility banned visits and housing provides elder housing units who will not be visited.

      There is no reported case in the territory and essential workers and MLAs travel freely without isolation so Nunavut residents should be free to travel like none in the country.

  8. Posted by Lost in Isolation on

    Served my 14 day sentence prior to returning to Nunavut from medical appointments. Here’s something that the GN should think about.
    ✔️Everyday I was called by the nurses to check on my health. Good!
    ✔️You are not tested as you begin your isolation and your not tested at the end! Only your temperature is taken. Seriously! Anyone could be asymptomatic.
    ✔️Everyday other day it seemed that I seen new “rules” either enforced and GN rules that we were given not followed at all.
    ✔️14 days of mediocre meals, you need money to order skip the dishes otherwise you’d go hungry if you didn’t like what was being served.
    ✔️People trying to rush into the elevator as you get off, nothing said while “guard” is clearly seeing this.
    ✔️Your mental health dwindles for each day you are there,. I found that I had to “check” myself for not loosing my shit because that twat waffle was violating the distancing rules AND SPITTING ON THE GROUND OUTDOORS, ??
    ✔️Checking into the airport, wow, those 14 days isolation??? Out the door! Even though I remained masked and kept all sanitary measures on myself and was social distancing , I was able to go for a smoke after I checked in, went to the washroom, stood in line for a coffee.
    ✔️Instead of paying for 14 days for isolation, why the hell don’t they test people as they arrive into isolation? Scale the number of days spent in isolation down as testing comes in? It’s a more practical way to do things if the GN won’t let their residents to self isolate (even if you do have the means to isolate at your own home).
    ✔️Clearly the millions of dollars spent on the isolation hubs should be put towards the unstable health care system and gather said resources to help combat this FOR WHEN IT DOES ARRIVE…it’s not IF…ITS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME…as we seen from this article how it has impacted people even though they may be “low-risk”.

    • Posted by Annie on

      I was supposed to go Iqaluit months ago but my worries same as what u wrote u experienced. I didn’t go. 2 nervous. If there is no covid test done when u arrive isolation hotel & b4 u leave & other people coming & going to hotel & then go to airport & mingle with everyone in airport & plane ride home – holy cow! lots of risks right there. I pray NU doesn’t get virus??

    • Posted by Concerned guest on

      During your isolation if you had to see a doctor after hours and go to the hospital I was told that I would have to restart my isolation which is unfair. If you are a person with medical conditions such as diabetes the food served makes your medical condition worse.

Comments are closed.