The NWT government declared a Covid-19 outbreak after a second case at the Diavik diamond mine, where the territory’s first variant form of the virus was confirmed earlier this week.
A case at Diavik announced on March 29 was on Thursday confirmed to have come from the B117 variant of the virus responsible for Covid-19, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
On Saturday, the territorial government said a second case related to the first had now been recorded and transmission at the mine site was suspected. Outbreaks are declared in closed facilities like mines when it’s believed the virus has moved at least once from person to person at the site.
The second person to test positive at the mine this week was already in isolation as a contact of the first case. Both cases involve non-resident workers.
“Both workers with Covid-19 are safely self-isolating at a secure location onsite with medical staff monitoring their condition. They are currently doing well,” the territorial government said in an advisory.
Saturday’s case is the 77th confirmed case of the virus in the territory. While the NWT government did not formally state Saturday’s case was the UK variant form of the virus, the circumstances – apparently connected to the case diagnosed earlier this week – suggest that’s highly likely. Samples from all positive tests are sent south for variant analysis, which may not yet be complete.
Several variants, such as those first identified in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, are considered concerning by health officials as they appear to either spread more easily or cause more severe forms of illness.
The territorial government said there was “no identified risk to NWT communities” related to the outbreak, and the territory restated its confidence in the Moderna vaccine’s ability to protect against variant forms of the virus.