The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) declared an outbreak of Covid-19 at the Gahcho Kué winter work site after a second person was identified with the virus this week.

The winter road camp is more than 40 kilometres away from the mine itself.

Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer for the Northwest Territories, stated in a news release issued late Jan. 28 that two people now have the virus and both individuals are doing well as they recuperate.

The initial person who was diagnosed – an out-of-territory worker – had been identified with the virus on Jan. 27. 

The additional person with the virus was identified after testing everyone at the worksite.

“Public health determines there is a high probability that transmission occurred at the worksite,” Kandola stated. “Gahcho Kué mine and camp workers have not had any contact with the mine.”

The news release states that transportation efforts are being arranged off-site to provide safe isolation spaces with all necessary precautions. 

Routine monitoring and follow-up will continue with all known cases and contacts and with the incoming crew.

An outbreak involving a closed facility, according to the OCPHO, includes remote camps and is declared “if one or more confirmed or probable case of Covid-19 where infection is acquired within the facility,” according to the release.

Kandola stated that there had been efforts in place to mitigate the risk of spread which likely limited the number of people who ended up with the virus this week.

All people on site are tested at the site and are assessed as contacts of Covid-19.

Isolation and assessment

All contacts are also currently isolating. Further assessment will be done and there will be isolation of workers on site to prevent and detect any further transmission, the release stated.

As new workers come into the worksite, OCPHO says they are taking actions to ensure there isn’t further risk of them contracting the virus.

“The company is working with public health to mitigate risk for incoming crew members and this includes completing a deep environmental cleaning of the site before staff changeover,” the release states.

The OCPHO says the outbreak this week has had no identifiable impacts on small communities in the Northwest Territories. The case and contact investigation will continue.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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