The office of the chief public health officer has confirmed that the two latest cases of COVID-19 — at Diavik Diamond Mine and in Yellowknife — are a variant of concern.
Both cases are of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom. It is the same variant as the earlier case announced at the mine in late March. This brings the total number of variant cases to three.
According to a health advisory, the two Diavik employees continue to isolate on-site, while the mine is working with OCPHO to return NWT and out-of-territory workers.
The invidual in Yellowknife and their contacts also continue to isolate and are doing well.
Determining variant cases
Health officials say they are sending samples from all detected COVID-19 cases to an Alberta lab to determine whether they are variants of the virus.
“Variants of Concern have been increasing in number across Canada and globally. Evidence gathered to date suggests Variants of Concern spread among people easier and faster than the original strain. This can result in more illness, hospitalizations, and deaths,” reads the advisory.
It adds that generally the symptoms are the same and that preventative measures like hand washing, physical distancing and masks will remain effective.
Health officials are also saying there is “strong evidence” the Moderna vaccine is effective against the B.1.1.7 variant.