Nunavut mine reports territory’s first presumptive case of COVID-19

Mary River Mine worker in self-isolation; officials say no contact with nearby Pond Inlet

Nunavut’s top doctor says the territory’s first presumptive case of COVID-19 has been identified at the Mary River Mine, located 160 kilometres south of Pond Inlet.

The territory was one of the few jurisdictions on earth and the only one in Canada to navigate the coronavirus pandemic’s first wave without someone testing positive.

“The individual is in isolation away from coworkers and doing well,” Dr. Michael Patterson said in a news release on Thursday. “The situation is contained, and I want to assure Nunavummiut that this individual recently entered the territory for work, and there has been no contact between Mary River workers and any of the surrounding communities.”

Nunavut residents have been kept from the mine since March, and the workers fly in directly from Quebec, so there is no contact between the mine and any community.

Patterson explained at a press conference that the individual tested positive twice on site and will be considered as a confirmed case if laboratory results also come back positive.

The person still isn’t showing symptoms, and has been isolated at the mine along with 12 coworkers they may have been in contact with.

Patterson said the case will not impact Nunavut’s re-opening plan or the travel bubble with the Northwest Territories.

“There is no need for Nunavummiut to worry about the spread of COVID-19 in relation to this case,” said Health Minister George Hickes in the release. “All necessary precautions are in place, and workers at the mine have not had any contact with any community members.”

Patterson said the case serves warning that the pandemic is not over and remains a “very real threat”

Officials said COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing have been initiated.

“This presumptive result does not impact Nunavut’s path or any of the current public health measures in place,” said Patterson.

“Since this is an isolated case, operations at the Mary River Mine will continue at this time,” the release said.

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.