More than 500 employees at Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine gold mine have undergone newly introduced Covid-19 rapid testing and not one test came back positive, the company stated.
The Meliadine mine is located 25 km north of Rankin Inlet.
The Covid-19 test results can be obtained on site in six hours or less.
Testing of another 350 workers at the Meadowbank Complex, 110 km from Baker Lake, is underway. Those results will take a little longer because they will be flown to the medical laboratory established at Meliadine for analysis.
The Meliadine lab has received provincial certifications from Ontario Public Health and Quebec Public Health, according to Agnico Eagle. Data from the testing process is being submitted to Health Canada with an aim to attain its certification.
Nunavut chief public health officer Michael Patterson previously stated that the rapid testing method in question has an error rate of approximately 30 per cent when attempting to determine whether an individual lacking symptoms might develop the coronavirus, known as presumptive testing. He questioned whether Health Canada certification would be granted due to that limitation, but he offered praise for the credentials of the medical team that Agnico Eagle has assembled. The team is led by Dr. Gary Kobinger, co-developer of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus and director of the Research Centre on Infectious Diseases at Laval University in Quebec City.
In addition to the rapid testing, Agnico Eagle has imposed numerous other precautions to prevent the coronavirus from making its way to its mine sites or nearby communities. Those measures include the elimination of non-essential travel to the communities, enhanced sanitization at the mines and on flights, and the extension of shifts to 28 days to reduce crew changes.
Nunavut hasn’t had a diagnosed case of the coronavirus to date.