Coronavirus Canada updates: Two presumptive cases linked to Nunavut mine

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Coronavirus Canada updates: Four new cases were reported in New Brunswick
Coronavirus Canada updates: Four new cases were reported in New Brunswick

Two presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Nunavut, involving employees at the Mary River Mine.

If confirmed positive by further testing, it would mark the first COVID-19 cases in the territory.

“The individuals and their contacts are asymptomatic and were immediately placed in isolation. Additional swabs were taken and sent for confirmatory testing at a southern lab, with results expected early next week,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer in a press release.

“At this time, there is no evidence of transmission within the Mary River Mine site.”

Patterson said that no Nunavut residents have worked at Mary River Mine since March, therefore the risk of spread of COVID-19 remains “very low” in communities across the territory.

According to a statement from Baffinland Iron Mines, which runs Mary River, an employee initially tested negative when they arrived at the mine on July 7, but a second test led to a positive diagnosis.

A second employee tested positive shortly after. Baffinland Iron Mines says that the transmission of the virus did not occur on site, and is instead the “result of a localized southern cluster.”

The test swabs will be sent to a lab in Hamilton, Ont., to confirm the results.

Earlier this month, a presumptive case of COVID-19 involving a fly-in worker was announced in connection to Mary River Mine. It was officially ruled negative on July 10, after a test at a lab in Ontario. Patterson said on Monday that the case will remain “presumptive”, since the mine was using test cartridges that weren’t compatible with verified labs used by the territory’s government.

In April, Nunavut’s first presumptive case was also ruled negative. The territory remains the only jurisdiction to not have a confirmed positive case throughout the pandemic.

There are no active patients in Canada’s three territories. All 16 cases in Yukon and the Northwest Territories have been marked as resolved. The last confirmed positive case to be identified in Canada’s three territories was on April 20.

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