YELLOWKNIFE APRIL 3, 2021 – A second worker already in self-isolation has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Diavik Diamond Mine.
This brings the number of individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infections to two. The current assessment is the second person acquired COVID-19 onsite. This has prompted the territory’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) to declare an outbreak at the mine.
Both workers with COVID-19 are safely self-isolating at a secure location onsite with medical staff monitoring their condition. They are currently doing well.
Diavik Diamond Mine is approximately 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
Context for an outbreak declaration
The Northwest Territories (NWT) defines an outbreak in a closed facility -- which includes remote camps -- as one or more confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 where infection is acquired within the facility.
Public Health has determined there is a high probability that viral transmission to the second case occurred at the worksite.
The second positive case was identified by Diavik medical staff and confirmed by a PCR test at Stanton Territorial Hospital.
The individual is among the contacts of the source case that was identified at the mine earlier this week. The two positive cases and all contacts have been self-isolating at the mine.
Medical staff are continuing to monitor and assess all worksite employees per standard COVID safety protocols.
The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) is working closely with Diavik mine to ensure the two individuals with COVID-19 and contacts continue to safely isolate.
The company will test all employees at the mine site and continue to work with Public Health officials to mitigate transmission risk.
Routine monitoring and follow-up will continue with all known cases and contacts.
The NWT sends a sample of the virus detected from all those diagnosed with COVID-19 to our southern lab partners to test for any Variants of Concern. The OCPHO routinely monitors for Variants of Concern through laboratory studies.
Lab analysis confirmed that the first COVID-19 infection announced on March 29 is a Variant of Concern – the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom. This is the first Variant of Concern identified in the NWT. There is strong evidence that the Moderna vaccine is very protective against the B.1.1.7 variant.
The second case is not being reported in the territory’s COVID-19 statistics. The individual is not an NWT resident.
The Public Health Agency of Canada requires that attribution of COVID-19 infections to a province or territory depend on the individual’s place-of-residence.
There is no identified risk to NWT communities related to the outbreak at the Diavik Diamond Mine at this time.
Monitoring and investigation will continue per public health communicable disease protocols to mitigate any transmission risk.
All commentary is attributable to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.