COVID-19 hits Nunavut’s continuing care centre in Gjoa Haven

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared at Gjoa Haven’s continuing care centre. (Submitted by the Government of Nunavut)

Gjoa Haven’s continuing care centre is suffering from a COVID-19 outbreak.

All eight residents and one staff member tested positive for the virus, Nunavut’s health department said on Friday.

“We looked at the situation and we felt it was warranted to do a public advisory to remind people that COVID is still around,” said Dr. André Corriveau, Nunavut’s acting director of public health.

Most of the staff and residents are fully immunized against COVID-19, Corriveau said, and no one has a serious form of the illness.

Corriveau added the last recorded case of COVID-19 in the hamlet of around 1,500 goes back to June, but that probably means the virus has been in the community.

Given the cluster of cases, Corriveau said, “there would be other cases in the community as well.”

Measures in place to contain outbreak

Protocols, such as enhanced cleaning, are in place to ensure the health and safety of clients, staff and the rest of the community, the health department said in its advisory.

“All elders at the facility are in stable condition and are being closely monitored,” the release said.

To avoid further spread of the virus and to protect client safety, the health department will control visits.

Clients with the virus have already been isolated, and anyone entering the facility will be screened for COVID-19.

The $1.5 million facility, built in 2009, has 10 beds and offers 24-hour care to its residents, who come from Nunavut’s western Kitikmeot region.

Some residents need up to 16 hours of assistance a day and receive around-the-clock surveillance from a staff which includes one full-time nurse, registered practical nurses, one cook and 10 continuing care workers.

Staff who feel ill are required to stay home until no longer symptomatic, the health department said.

Since the suspension of Nunavut’s Public Health Emergency in April, all health staff, including continuing care centre staff, have been required to wear masks for the duration of their shifts.

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Jane George, CBC News

Jane George is now a reporter-editor at CBC Nunavut. Prior to August 2021, George worked at Nunatsiaq News for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her stories.

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