VICTORIA -- A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at a military base near Victoria, B.C.

Three cases have been associated with the outbreak, which began Wednesday night when a single case was detected at a navy fleet maintenance facility at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

All maintenance work at the facility was scaled back to only the most critical duties Thursday. However, a second case of COVID-19 was detected Friday morning and a third case was found Friday evening.

All three cases have been found in civilian defence employees who worked closely with one another.

The outbreak is happening as the navy’s Pacific fleet is preparing to launch a joint training exercise with the U.S. from the southern Vancouver Island base.

The COVID-19 outbreak is not expected to delay or otherwise affect the scheduled exercise, whose participants have been quarantining in area hotels for two weeks in preparation for their departure Monday.

A spokesperson for Maritime Forces Pacific said Friday the maintenance facility was being sanitized and contact tracing was underway.

“The unit’s COVID response team has worked to understand the internal risk and to ensure that health and safety remain paramount in their response,” said Lt.-Cmdr. Tony Wright.

“They have identified affected personnel, who have been notified and tested, and affected areas, which have been disinfected and have received additional disinfecting today.”

The fleet maintenance facility is responsible for repairs and upgrades on Royal Canadian Navy ships and auxiliary vessels on Canada's West Coast.