YELLOWKNIFE February 23, 2021 – The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer has confirmed two new diagnoses of COVID-19 in the NWT.
One is an out-of-territory worker related to the Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak.
One involves an out-of-territory seasonal worker in Yellowknife.
Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak
The new diagnosis was confirmed in an individual who is in quarantine.
This brings the total number of confirmed diagnoses related to the Gahcho Kué Mine outbreak to 19.
Eleven of the individuals are out-of-territory workers and eight are NWT residents. Eleven of the individuals have recovered and eight diagnoses are still active.
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.
The new diagnosis results from continued monitoring and repeated testing of all Gahcho Kué employees. The individual is isolating and doing well.
Because of unknown transmission chains, the CPHO determined that every worker departing the mine site on February 22-23 is a contact to COVID-19.
Medical staff continue to monitor and assess all worksite employees per standard COVID-19 safety protocols.
On February 6, 2021, mining operations were suspended.
Gahcho Kué mine has collaborated closely with public health officials on the relocation of NWT resident workers away from the mine site for self-isolation. It has also repatriated approximately 95 out-of-territory workers to their home provinces. As of February 23, 75 NWT workers have completed their isolation and will be returning home. Another 30 out-of-territory workers have also completed their 14-day isolation in Yellowknife and will be repatriated to their home provinces.
As part of a planned crew change of the entire essential services team on site, over the past two days, 57 NWT workers and six non-NWT workers were brought to Yellowknife for 14 days in an isolation centre , and 67 out-of-territory workers were repatriated to their home provinces.
Every NWT resident leaving the mine site is required to self-isolate and monitor their health for 14 days. The NWT is working with other jurisdictions to safely repatriate out-of-territory workers.
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.
The OCPHO was notified on February 21st of a seasonal worker diagnosed with COVID-19 in Yellowknife.
It is believed that the individual contracted COVID-19 before they travelled to the territory.
Public health’s investigation is ongoing. Known close contacts have been followed up with.
The individual and all known close contacts are isolating and doing well. Public health will continue to monitor the individuals throughout their isolation.
The investigation has not revealed any risk to the public at this time.
Practice healthy habits
As COVID-19 diagnoses increase in the NWT, it’s important that we stick to healthy habits that we know work to stop COVID-19 in its tracks.
- Self-isolate whenever required.
- Stay home when you’re sick – even if it’s just a sniffle.
- Contact your local health centre or public health unit to arrange COVID-19 testing at the first sign of any illness.
- Keep two metres, or six feet, of distance between yourself and others.
- Wear a mask when you’re in public or when it’s tough to keep distance.
- Wash your hands – and do it a lot.
- Keep coughs and sneezes to yourself.
All commentary is attributable to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.
Manager, COVID Communications
Health and Social Services
COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat