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Government keeps a lid on Covid-positive medical traveller

Nunavut’s chief public health officer did not reveal details of the positive Covid-19 case down south during Tuesday’s press conference. “I don't want to needlessly contribute to blaming or stigma,” says Dr. Michael Patterson. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo

Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson did not discuss any further details related to the Nunavummiuq who has tested positive for Covid-19 in southern Canada, during May 19th press conference.

On May 18th, in a press release, the GN had stated the individual was a medical traveller, who has been down south for six weeks.

The name of the patient’s community or present location down south was not revealed.

The GN identified the community where Nunavut's first Covid-19 case was detected on April 29, but it turned out to be a false positive. The infected individual resided within Pond Inlet.

Patterson explained the rationale for disclosing the community at that time was to help the community.

With the case of the medical traveller, the chief public health officer said there is no benefit of disclosing the community since the case is outside the territory.

“And it is an invasion of the individual's privacy and increases the risk that we will inadvertently disclose information that will lead to people identifying the individual,” added Patterson.

Presently, the positive case outside Nunavut does not raise a risk for Nunavummiut, explained the doctor. If contract tracing reveals a threat to Nunavummiut, then details will be discussed at that time, assured Patterson.

He also assured the infected individual did not catch the coronavirus in Nunavut.

“It's pretty much impossible that they caught Covid-19 in Nunavut,” he said. For 90% of the people the incubation time is less than 14 days and the infected patient has about three times the maximum incubation period.

The medical traveller is “well and stable,” informed Patterson. The patient’s medical escort is being isolated and monitored.

The GN is working with some hotels and services to support anyone, who needs to be isolated for Covid-19.

Some of the hotels are setup with rooms on different floors for isolation purposes. If an individual becomes symptomatic in an isolation hub, they can be moved into a separate area from the rest of the residents, explained Patterson, adding the setups vary from site to site.

“Bottom line is one way or another we would keep them isolated until they're no longer infectious,” emphasized Patterson.

Covid case at Embassy West

A staff member at Embassy West in Ottawa, a long-term care facility that provides services to Elders from Nunavut, tested positive for Covid-19. This individual is not a Nunavummiuq. The announcement was made on May 17 on Facebook by Embassy West.

The infected staff member has had no direct contact with residents, assured Premier Joe Savikataaq on Tuesday.

“The risk of somebody having been exposed to Covid-19 in Embassy West is quite low,” added Patterson. At the moment, transferring Elders out of the facility is not going to change anything, he said.

Patterson also added the Elders at Embassy West are receiving services that cannot be delivered in Nunavut. By returning to the territory the reduced services would increase the risk of other problems for the Elders.


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