Three new COVID-19 Diagnoses related to Gahcho Kué mine outbreak

News Type: 
Advisories

YELLOWKNIFE February 19, 2021 – The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer has confirmed three new diagnoses of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories related to the Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak.

All three of the newly-diagnosed individuals are out-of-territory workers.

This brings the total number of confirmed diagnoses related to the Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak to 18.

Ten of the individuals are out-of-territory workers and eight are NWT residents. 

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 diagnoses were confirmed by Gahcho Kué medical staff in individuals who are in quarantine at the mine. The three individuals are self-isolating and doing well.

Gahcho Kué medical staff 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 18, 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.

Dealing with self-isolation

Self-isolation is not easy and anyone who is self-isolating is making sacrifices to keep themself, 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

Media Contact

Darren Campbell

Manager, COVID Communications

Health and Social Services

COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat

Darren_P_Campbell@gov.nt.ca