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Both individuals tested who positive for COVID-19 are employees of Imperial Oil.

According to a news release issued Wednesday evening, both cases involve non-residents and employees of the company. 

“They did not acquire the infection onsite and the two individuals with COVID-19 are not linked,” said Kami Kandola, chief public health officer.

“The OCPHO is not declaring a facility outbreak at this time. Both individuals are currently self-isolating at a secure location onsite and doing well.

“Transport of non-resident workers to and from the site is done by direct charter.”

Kandola added that there is no public health risk at this time, but that there is a contact tracing investigation taking place. 

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Lisa Schmidt, public affairs advisor with Imperial Oil would not confirm that there were two cases on Wednesday evening only giving reference to a Facebook post the company made earlier in the day regarding one incident. 

“Imperial is working closely and following all guidance from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer and are keeping local leaders informed,” stated the notice.

“Precautionary measures have been taken to prevent further spread of the virus among our workforce.”

Lisa Duncan, another company spokesperson, said that that no further information can be disclosed to protect confidentiality of its employees.

Norman Wells Mayor Frank Pope thanked Imperial Oil in a letter following news of a COVID-19 case in the Sahtu community. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer reported two cases on Wednesday night, however.

Town reaction

Kayla Turner, governance and community engagement manager said on Wednesday afternoon that Imperial Oil reached out to the community early on April 28.

She did not mention a second case. 

“We did get an update to the community of a positive case of COVID- 19 from one of Imperial Oil’s employees,” she said.

“That person is in isolation and has no symptoms.”

She explained there is little information to go on and pointed to the memorandum posted on the Norman Wells Announcements Facebook page.

She said Wednesday’s development represented the first case the Sahtu community of COVID since the pandemic started last year.

Mayor Frank Pope posted a letter to the community on the Town of Norman Wells Facebook page noting Imperial Oil’s transparency and willingness to share information.

However, he only acknowledged “a transient worker who arrived in Town on Tuesday, April 27 on the Imperial Oil charter flight from Edmonton.”

Efforts to reach Pope and a town representative to clarify the discrepancy after hours on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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