North

N.W.T. COVID-19 patient in critical condition, health authorities say

The patient, who caught COVID-19 while working at the Gahcho Kué mine, was medevaced to Edmonton.

2 other individuals have been released from hospital

A file photo of a hospital. An N.W.T. resident was flown to hospital in Edmonton after developing complications related to COVID-19, health authorities confirmed Friday. (Shutterstock)

A Northwest Territories worker who caught COVID-19 while employed at the Gahcho Kué mine is in critical condition, health authorities confirmed Friday.

The man was medevaced to Edmonton Wednesday after developing complications related to COVID-19, a spokesperson for the chief public health officer confirmed.

"We won't be providing further details per patient confidentially," the statement reads.

"This situation provides a stark reminder that we must continue to take this pandemic seriously."

The territory has seen four people total hospitalized for complications related to COVID-19, with three connected to the Gahcho Kué mine. All but one have recovered.

Health authorities declared an outbreak at the mine Feb. 3 and hundreds of workers have been forced to self-isolate as potential contacts. There have been 19 cases of COVID-19 confirmed as a result of the outbreak.

The mine suspended operations Feb. 6, but is now planning to restart them.

Health authorities monitoring for new variants

Health officials also confirmed that they are working with a lab outside the territory to confirm if new variants of COVID-19 have been detected in the territory.

Emerging mutations of the coronavirus have been demonstrated, in some cases, to be more infectious or more resistant to vaccines.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the chief public health officer confirmed that none of the new variants had been detected in the N.W.T. so far.

But writing Feb. 3, Mike Westwick, then a spokesperson for the chief public health officer, said their presence would not necessarily mean a change in public health guidelines.

"Before making that kind of decision, we would assess whether isolation had successfully contained the variant or not," Westwick wrote. "From there, we would assess the scope, location, and public risks presented by behaviours."

"It could also depend on the community in which it emerged and the health capacity of said community and region."

Westwick did say the territory would consider strengthening some of its measures, including ones around gatherings or masks, if new variants were detected, but that mandatory quarantines for travellers remain the best defence.

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