Total of six workers with confirmed COVID-19 at Gahcho Kué Mine since January 30

News Type: 
Advisories

YELLOWKNIFE February 10, 2021 – A further four individuals working at Gahcho Kué Mine have received confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses, bringing the total number of workers with COVID-19 to six.

Stanton Territorial Hospital confirmed two diagnoses on February 6, one on February 8, and one on February 9. Two previously confirmed diagnoses were announced on February 3.

Two of the people diagnosed are NWT residents and the remaining four are out-of-territory workers.

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 individuals with COVID-19 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 determines that every worker at the mine site is a contact to COVID-19.

None of the individuals were infectious during travel to the mine.

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

The Gahcho Kué mine outbreak is not associated with last week’s COVID-19 outbreak at the company’s contractor-operated winter road worksite, where three people with COVID-19 infections have been identified. The Gahcho Kué diamond mine is located 40 km from the company’s winter road camp.

Actions taken

On February 6, 2021, mining operations were suspended.

Gahcho Kué mine is working 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 9, approximately 110 workers are safely 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 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.

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. 

More details will be provided at the Public Health officials briefing at 2 p.m. today (February 10.) 

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 outbreaks at either Gahcho Kué worksite 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.

Attribution

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

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