3 Gahcho Kué mine workers hospitalized with COVID-19

Dr. Kami Kandola addresses media in a bi-weekly COVID-19 briefing at the Legislative Assembly on Feb. 17. (Mariah Caruso/CKLB)

Since the outbreak at Gahcho Kué mine was announced in early February, three workers are now in hospital with COVID-19.

One of the workers was medevaced to Edmonton on Wednesday.

“These hospitalizations are a stark reminder that we must take this pandemic seriously,” says Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer.

“That is why we have put these public health measures in place and why they need to remain in place,” she adds.

Out of the 19 workers, eight cases are active and 11 have recovered.

Public health officials are working closely with De Beers to contain the outbreak and reduce risk at the mine.

Both outbreaks at the mine and at the worksite are unrelated.

However, the outbreak at the Gahcho Kué winter road worksite is over, says Dr. Kandola.

All three cases at the worksite have recovered.

Full herd immunity expected by April

Dr. Kandola was joined by Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, territorial medical director, in a virtual media briefing on Feb. 24.

At the briefing, Dr. Kandola said the fourth shipment is to arrive later this week, bringing the total number of doses to 35,300 in the NWT.

Dr. Kandola said residents are expected to be fully vaccinated (receive both doses) by the end of April, delaying the 75 per cent goal by a month.

“The NWT is still leading the country in the delivery of first doses, which are already giving strong protection to about 42 per cent of our adult population,” she said.

To date, the GNWT has administered nearly 15,000 doses of the vaccine with about 2,000 residents now being fully vaccinated.

Vaccine rollout

All 33 N.W.T. communities are now on the vaccine schedule.

Some Yellowknife residents, such as teachers, are expected to receive the vaccine beginning Mar. 1.

Many community clinics are now open to residents who are getting their second dose and to any resident who is 18 and older wishing to get their first dose.

This excludes clinics in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik.

An updated vaccine clinic schedule can be found here.

No Yukon travel exemption

Prior to the briefing, Julie Green, minister of Health and Social Services, addressed concerns on loosening travel restrictions for NWT travellers from the Yukon at the Legislative Assembly.

Dr. Kandola confirmed in the briefing that she is not considering a travel exemption for NWT residents returning from travel from the Yukon at this point.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com