Six more presumptive cases of Covid-19 have been identified at the NWT’s Gahcho Kué diamond mine, bringing the expected total to eight and triggering a shutdown at the site.
Two infections at the mine had been confirmed earlier in the week. The latest six are now being double-checked by the laboratory at Yellowknife’s Stanton Territorial Hospital.
All those involved were said to be doing well.
On Saturday evening, mine operator De Beers said it was “temporarily suspending operations” in the wake of the latest presumptive positives.
The mining group said 47 other workers identified through contact tracing were now in isolation at Gahcho Kué.
“The health and safety of our employees and contractors are our first priority, so we made the immediate decision to stop mining and processing of ore effective Saturday, February 6, until we determine a safe path forward,” said Lyndon Clark, Gahcho Kué’s general manager, in a statement.
“Only employees required to keep essential services operating will be allowed out of their rooms for the time being.
“All other employees are to stay in their rooms except to use the washroom and for scheduled meal times.”
De Beers said 335 people are currently at the mine site. The territorial government said all employees at the site had now been tested.
The company said it was “working closely with its medical advisors and NWT Public Health to plan the next steps.”
The NWT government declared an outbreak at the mine as it is considered a closed facility in which Covid-19 appears to be spreading.
The territory believes the eight patients were not infectious during the time they travelled to the mine.
There is no risk to NWT communities, the territory stated.