THESSALON -- The North Shore Health Network has temporarily shut down the Thessalon hospital.

In a statement released by the health unit, officials say the closures come as a precautionary measure while healthcare workers undergo tests for COVID-19.

“After discussion and agreement with our physician and management team, as well as Algoma Public Health, we feel that this is the safest course of action given the information that we have available at this time,” Ralph Barker, President & CEO of the North Shore Health Network, said in the statement.

The move to close comes as quite a shock to the town's mayor.

“We've been working hard to get this out there, in talks with the NSHN," Bill Rosenberg said. "We've made it public so the public's well aware what's going on. It's kind of a wait and see until we get the tests results back." 

Rosenberg said despite it being a difficult decision, the health unit made the correct choice in taking precautions.

"It's going to make people even more aware how serious this is," he said. "It's not selective, it comes to little towns, it's not just the big cities; it's all over." 

The temporary closure is expected to last three to five days, but the health unit says it will continue to evaluate that timeline as information becomes available. 

 Emergency services and patients will be redirected to NSHN’s Blind River or Richards Landing -Matthews sites.