Six new COVID-19 Diagnoses in the NWT

News Type: 
Advisories

Five are related to Gahcho Kué mine outbreak. One is linked to out-of-territory travel

 

YELLOWKNIFE February 17, 2021 – The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer has confirmed six new diagnoses of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories.

Five are related to the Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak.

One is in Yellowknife related to out-of-territory travel.

Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak

Three of the five confirmed diagnoses are NWT residents and the other two individuals are out of territory workers. The new cases were confirmed in individuals who are in quarantine at the mine or at an isolation centre in Yellowknife.

The five individuals related to the Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak are self-isolating and doing well.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases related to the outbreak to 15. Three have recovered and 12 are active.

The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer 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 and Yellowknife Public Health as they continue to test and monitor 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 initial travel to the mine.

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. No date has been set for operations to resume.

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 has also repatriated approximately 95 out-of-territory workers to their home provinces. A team of essential workers will remain on site. As of February 16, 75 NWT workers are safely isolating in Yellowknife. There are 31 out of territory workers also safely self isolating in Yellowknife. 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 company continues to collaborate with public health officials to mitigate transmission risk and Yellowknife Public Health will perform testing and monitoring of employees isolating in Yellowknife.

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. Deep cleaning on site has begun and the company plans to bring an industrial hygiene crew to site to undertake further sanitization prior to resuming operations.

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.

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.

Yellowknife

The case is connected to domestic travel outside the NWT.

The individual flew in on February 12.

Public health is working with the airlines to get flight manifests and call all passengers who may have been sitting in affected seats directly.

Public risk

Public health risk assessment is being done at this time. The public will be notified if any further risk is identified.

Only those in the rows identified below 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.

Investigation

Flight information

Airline

Flight number

Departing

Destination

Date

Affected rows

Canadian North

238

Edmonton

Yellowknife

February 12

3 to 9

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 arrange for COVID-19 testing.
  • For information on COVID-19 testing, click here.

Public health identifies potential public exposure to COVID-19 during the domestic flight to Yellowknife.

Actions taken

Public health worked with the airline to get flight manifests and has called passengers who may have been sitting in affected seats directly.

Public risk

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

Keeping gatherings small is another way for you and yours to take some control over transmission risk.

If you’re travelling: plan ahead, be aware

Because of rising transmission rates across Canada and the globe, non-essential travel outside the territory is not recommended right now.

There are currently significant outbreaks in many areas where NWT residents would routinely travel in different times.

If you travel, awareness is key. Knowing the COVID-19 situation in your destination before you travel will allow you to make informed decisions about your health and safety.

Links to information from two areas of frequent routine travel are included in our relevant links for reference.

There is also information online for each province and territory showing where the highest areas of COVID-19 incidence are.

You can find other data on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website.

Dealing with self-isolation

Self-isolation is not easy and people who are self-isolating are making sacrifices to keep themselves, their friends and families, co-workers and the territory safe.

People who are self-isolating may feel fear, anger, sadness, irritability, guilt or confusion. There are several supports and resources to help you through this challenging time:

Attribution

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

Relevant links