Worker tests postive for COVID-19 at Nunavut's Meliadine gold mine

The employee at Agnico Eagle’s mine near Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 8.

This marks 9th case of COVID-19 at the mine since the start of the pandemic, says Agnico Eagle

Agnico Eagle's Meliadine gold mine is 25 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. This is the ninth case of COVID-19 at the mine since the start of the pandemic. (Submitted by Agnico Eagle)

A worker at Agnico Eagle's Meliadine gold mine, located about 25 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, has tested positive for COVID-19, the company said in a news release Friday.

The worker tested positive on Jan. 8, but the positive test result was confirmed on Jan. 13, the release says.

Prior to arriving at the mine, the person was tested on Dec. 24 and the result came back negative. They were tested again twice — once after being on site for three days, then on Day 5 — but those results were also negative, the release says.

But on Jan. 8, the person "developed mild COVID-19 symptoms and was immediately placed in isolation," the release says. "The employee presumptively tested positive on the same day."

Agnico Eagle says the person was isolated on site until they could be flown out on a special charter flight later that day.

There have been nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the mine since the start of the pandemic, an Agnico Eagle spokesperson told CBC News Saturday via email.

11 contacts identified

Contact tracing identified 11 employees who may have had contact with the positive case, says the release.

The impacted workers were flown out of the mine on a special charter on Jan. 8, and were tested on Jan. 9. The results were all negative, says the release.

The infected worker and the 11 close contacts are now self-isolating at home for 14 days, said the Agnico Eagle spokesperson.

Contamination risk is "deemed low," the company says, but common areas at the mine, such as the gym, smoke shacks and recreational room, have been closed for cleaning and disinfection.

The public health risk to Rankin Inlet is also "very low," as the mine isolated itself from the community in March, and sent all Nunavummiut employees home with 75 per cent of their base salary to reduce the risk of potential transmission to Nunavut communities.

Agnico Eagle is working closely with Nunavut's office of the chief public health officer and following its recommendations, the company says.