Canadian mining worker tests positive for COVID-19 in Northwest Territories

The open pit stands at the Diavik Diamond Mine. A presumptive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed as positive. (Ben Nelms/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
A presumptive case of COVID-19 at Northwest Territories’ Diavik Diamond Mine has been confirmed as positive.

The N.W.T. Office of the Chief Public Health Officer confirmed the results in a news release Thursday. The statement said the mine worker, who is from Ontario, is doing well and is isolating on-site.

Twenty-one other workers who came in “close contact” are also isolating.

“Upon discovery of the presumptive case, 37 people were isolated on-site out of an abundance of caution,” the statement said. Sixteen of those workers were then “safely released.”

The presumptive case, which was first announced Wednesday, was validated by Alberta Precision Laboratories. The government said the worker tested positive upon entry. They were taken to the mine by a charter flight directly from the South.

Second positive case at mine

This is the second positive case in recent months at the mine. In July, a worker from Alberta tested positive for COVID-19 at the Diavik mine, which is located about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. The investigation into that case is now closed, and public health officials determined there was no risk to communities in the territory.

“Diavik Diamond Mine has medical expertise on-site and will be in regular contact with public health officials as they monitor the situation and investigate contacts,” Thursday’s statement said.

On Wednesday, a Diavik spokesperson said their focus is on keeping employees and communities safe.

“We have extensive measures in place to protect people,” the emailed statement on Wednesday said.

Rio Tinto, which operates the mine, said there have been about 9,000 tests for COVID-19 done at Diavik since testing was introduced in May.

The confirmed case will count toward Ontario’s COVID-19 numbers, since they are not a resident of the N.W.T., which is the determining factor according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

There are currently no other known active cases of COVID-19 in the territory. All five of the N.W.T’s confirmed cases recovered months ago.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Presumptive case of COVID-19 reported at Canada’s Northwest Territories diamond mine, CBC News

Greenland: Greenland prolongs COVID-19 assembly limits until 2021, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland reinstates COVID-19 restrictions after spike in domestic infections, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Climate change hits back at Svalbard, coal mine flooded by melting glacier in Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Murmansk region counts more COVID-19 cases than neighboring Norway or Finland, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish authorities tasked with preparing for second coronavirus wave, Radio Sweden

United States: Two Conoco employees in Alaska’s Arctic test positive for COVID-19, Alaska Public Media

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