A presumptive positive case of Covid-19 has been detected at the Diavik Diamond Mine, the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) said in a news release on Wednesday.
Testing upon entry to the mine site resulted in a presumptive case for an Ontario resident working at Diavik, about 300 km northeast of Yellowknife.
The charter flight carrying the individual originated in the South and flew directly to the mine site, the OCPHO said.
The person is currently self-isolating in a designated isolation area at the mine.
No additional details would be provided to protect the individual’s privacy.
The case still has to be confirmed by a public health laboratory. Medical staff at Diavik are working closely with NWT public health officials on further actions, including validating the test at Alberta Precision Laboratories. Contacts at the mine site are isolated in designated areas and no additional risk is identified for the NWT.
If the result is confirmed to be positive, it won’t be included in NWT statistics because the individual is from Ontario, in line with Public Health Agency of Canada regulations.
A spokesperson for the mine operator Rio Tinto said it is focussed on keeping its employees and the communities safe.
“We have extensive measures in place to protect people and continue to be guided by the NWT government and advice from international health organisations on best practice.”
Almost 9,000 tests for Covid have been conducted since May at Diavik in collaboration with the the NWT’s chief public health officer as an extra safety measure to protect workers and community members, the spokesperson added.
The testing program operates from an onsite laboratory installed by the non-profit health organization GuardRX. All personnel are tested with nasopharyngeal swabs on arrival at the mine and before leaving to return home. Several other measures including screening, sanitization and social distancing are in place.
The presumptive case on Wednesday is the second since July, when an Alberta resident was later confirmed to be positive for Covid-19.
Due to strict controls at the mine and effective contact tracing, there was no community spread, said chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola.