COVID-19 infection prompts Agnico Eagle to evacuate 16 workers

1 Meadowbank gold mine worker tests positive; others were close contacts

A total of 16 workers recently left Agnico Eagle Mines Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake, after one worker tested positive for COVID-19 and 15 more were identified as close contacts. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Agnico Eagle Mining Ltd. has removed 16 workers from its Meadowbank gold mine site near Baker Lake after detecting a case of COVID-19.

The mine worker had tested negative March 15 for COVID-19 before flying to Meadowbank, as part of the mining company’s employee travel protocol for Nunavut, a release from Agnico Eagle said.

On March 19, the worker started to develop mild COVID-19 symptoms.

“In accordance with Agnico Eagle’s protocol, the individual was immediately placed in isolation and re-tested,” the company said.

Another test the same day was a presumptive positive for the worker, who remained in isolation on site before leaving March 20 on a charter flight.

That result was confirmed by an accredited laboratory on March 27 the release said.

Meanwhile, the company’s internal contact tracing exercise identified 15 others who may have been in contact with the infected worker.

They were re-tested and all results came back negative, but they remained in isolation until leaving March 20 on a separate charter flight.

“They have been instructed to follow the recommendations of their provincial health authorities and will be re-tested prior to returning to site,” the release said.

As a preventive measure, the company tested all employees who stayed at the Meadowbank camp between March 15 and 18, and re-tested them again from March 20 to 24.

Agnico Eagle has between 800 and 900 workers each week working at its Meadowbank mine site.

Although the risk of contamination is considered low, all common areas, like the gym, smoke shacks and recreational room were shut down for cleaning and disinfection, the release said. These reopened Monday.

The risk of transmission to Baker Lake is very low, said Melissa Bradley, Agnico Eagle’s community relations and communications superintendent in the release.

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