Confirmed COVID-19 Infection in Inuvik; Diavik Diamond Mine outbreak declared over

News Type: 
Advisories

YELLOWKNIFE April 26, 2021 – The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) has confirmed one new infection of COVID-19 in Inuvik.

The infection is related to out-of-territory domestic travel.

The individual is self-isolating and doing well.

This brings the number of active COVID-19 cases in the NWT to nine. Six are in Yellowknife, two in Fort Smith and one in Inuvik.

NWT labs forward all positive cases of COVID-19 to our southern lab partners to test for any variants of concern. If a variant of concern is identified, OCPHO will update the public.

Investigation

Public health identifies potential public exposure to COVID-19 during a domestic flight on April 24 originating from Edmonton, with flight stops in Yellowknife, Norman Wells and Inuvik.

Actions taken

Public health worked with the airline to get flight manifests and is currently reaching out to passengers who may have been sitting in affected rows directly.

Public risk

Public health has completed its assessment and does not identify any other situations where the public was at risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Only those in the rows identified may be considered to have an exposure risk. No one else on the airplane is at risk of exposure.  

This is based on the expert assessment of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Flight information

Airline Flight Number Departing Destination Date Affected rows

Canadian North

5T 244 Edmonton Yellowknife April 24 14-20

Canadian North

5T 244 Yellowknife Norman Wells April 24 7-13

Canadian North

5T 244 Norman Wells Inuvik April 24 7-13

What to do if you were in these rows and have not been contacted:

  • Continue to self-isolate at-home for 14 days after your arrival as required.
  • Your household is also required to self-isolate with you if you are not in a self-contained unit.
  • Contact your local health centre or public health unit to identify you are a contact seated in an affected row and arrange for COVID-19 testing.
  • For information on COVID-19 testing, click here.

Diavik Diamond Mine Outbreak Over

The OCPHO has also declared the outbreak at Diavik Diamond Mine over. The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) initially declared an outbreak at the mine on April 3.

The last person to develop symptoms of COVID-19 during their employment at Diavik Diamond Mine during the outbreak did so on March 29.

The total number of confirmed cases related to the outbreak was two. Both individuals were out-of-territory workers and were infected with the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom. Both individuals have recovered, meaning they do not have active infection that can be transmitted to others.

Diavik Diamond Mine is located approximately 300 km northeast of Yellowknife.

OCPHO recognizes that since the start of the pandemic, Diavik Diamond Mine has implemented a wide range of measures to help prevent the introduction of COVID-19 infections and mitigate the risk of transmission onsite. Additional measures implemented because of the outbreak include:

  • Increased mask use-- using masks at all times unless eating, drinking or alone in dorm rooms.
  • Closure of recreation facilities and communal areas.
  • Further reduction of capacity in the dining hall, lunchrooms and in meeting rooms.
  • Ongoing testing regimen including:
    • Rapid antigen testing prior to boarding flights
    • PCR testing upon arrival
    • PCR testing on day six
    • PCR testing 24-48 hours prior to departure
    • Additional PCR and antigen testing of symptomatic individuals or those in isolation.

In addition to these measures, the GNWT has prioritized vaccinating both resident and non-resident rotational workers on mineral and petroleum projects in the NWT. Increasing immunity at these worksites will protect NWT residents, their families, and the communities these workers return to between shifts – particularly the most remote and vulnerable communities with limited access to health care. Every dose given in the NWT will continue to boost the territory’s overall defense against COVID-19.

The decision to vaccinate non-resident rotational workers is supported by the federal government and is occurring in other jurisdictions across Canada reliant on transitional workers to deliver essential services. Recent remote worksite outbreaks in the NWT and the development of new COVID-19 variants in other parts of Canada have highlighted the importance of protecting rotational workers living and working inside our borders.

Context for Outbreak Declaration

The NWT defines an outbreak in a closed facility -- which includes remote camps -- as one or more confirmed or probable case(s) of COVID-19 where infection is acquired within the facility.

Attribution

All commentary is attributable to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.

 

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