Four new workers diagnosed with COVID-19 from Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak

News Type: 
Advisories

YELLOWKNIFE February 12, 2021 –The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) has confirmed 4 new cases of COVID-19 at the Gahcho Kué Mine. Three of the newly-diagnosed individuals are NWT residents and the other individual is an out-of-territory worker.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases at the mine to 10.

The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) declared an outbreak at the mine on February 3. Gahcho Kué is located approximately 280 km northeast of Yellowknife.

Investigation

The new cases were identified by Gahcho Kué medical staff as they were testing and monitoring the entire site for COVID-19. The company has re-tested all employees.

Because of unknown transmission chains, the CPHO determined that every worker at the mine site is a contact to COVID-19.

None of the individuals were infectious during travel to the mine. They are all self-isolating and doing well.

Medical staff continue to monitor and assess all worksite employees per standard COVID-19 safety protocols.

Actions taken

On February 6, 2021, mining operations were suspended.

Gahcho Kué mine has collaborated closely with public health officials on the relocation of Northwest Territories resident workers away from the mine site for self-isolation. It is also working on repatriating out-of-territory workers to their home provinces. A team of essential workers will remain on site. As of February 11, approximately 110 workers are safely isolating in Yellowknife. The vast majority are NWT residents. Public Health officials are working with the company to ensure the individuals with COVID-19 and contacts continue to safely isolate.

Every person leaving the mine site is required to self-isolate and monitor their health for 14 days. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer is working closely with public health agencies in other provinces to arrange safe repatriation.

The company continues to collaborate with public health officials to mitigate transmission risk and Yellowknife Public Health will perform some testing and monitoring.

For those remaining on-site, routine monitoring and follow-up will continue. Outbreak response measures have been implemented, in addition to routine measures to protect employees. 

The CPHO will continue to advise the public as new information becomes available.

Public risk

There is no identified risk to NWT communities related to the outbreak at the Gahcho Kué Mine at this time.

Monitoring and investigation will continue per Public Health communicable disease protocols to mitigate any transmission risk.

As COVID cases increase, it’s important that we all remember to stick to healthy habits like physical distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing to help keep you and others safe.

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 to be attributed to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.

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