Presumptive cases of COVID-19 at Nunavut mine test negative
Results bring territory’s number of presumed or probable cases of COVID-19 back to zero
Two presumptive cases of COVID-19 at Baffinland’s Mary River mine in Nunavut have both tested negative during follow-up tests at a lab in southern Canada.
That brings the territory’s number of presumed or probable cases of COVID-19 back to zero.
The two presumed positive cases of COVID-19 were announced on July 15, following tests conducted at the mine.
Samples from the people presumed to have COVID-19 were sent to the lab in Ontario last Wednesday.
The Government of Nunavut’s public health office received the negative results on Monday afternoon, but didn’t report them until today because of communication problems on Tuesday, a spokesperson from the Department of Health said.
Nunavut’s public health office is working with the mine to make sure that the two employees and people thought to have been in contact with them remain in isolation for a total of 14 days as a “precautionary measure,” Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said in a news release issued today.
Neither the two people nor those who are thought to have been in contact with them have developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the release said, and there’s no evidence of transmission at the mine site.
The first person to test positive for COVID-19 at the mine at the beginning of July experienced a similar situation as the two present cases: They initially tested negative on the mine’s testing devices upon arrival in the territory. They later tested positive twice and were placed in isolation at the Mary River site, without displaying any symptoms. Their results from accredited machines in Ontario returned negative a week later.
It was assumed that the two latest presumed cases of COVID-19 picked up mild cases from the first person at a social event in the south, before they arrived at the mine site. But it could be that all three people actually didn’t have COVID-19, and all three are cases of false positive results.
Patterson described the mine’s machines used to test for COVID-19 as “reliable” on July 15, when the presumptive cases were announced.
“They’re equivalent or close to what we use,” he said. And he said the doctor working for the mine “has a worldwide reputation in doing the research and doing work with viruses.
“Certainly I’m comfortable saying they’re presumptive positives,” Patterson said at the time.
Test results from machines in Nunavut must be sent south for confirmation until they have detected 15 positive cases, Patterson said. Until that time, positive results will be presumed until they’re confirmed.