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Yellowknife and Diavik cases of COVID-19 variant

Two cases of COVID-19 reported in the past week, one at the Diavik mine and one in Yellowknife, are both cases of the UK COVID-19 variant.

Alberta Precision Laboratories confirmed the results and notified the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

The Diavik case is the second case at the mine, and was reported when an outbreak was declared by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola on April 3.

The Yellowknife case, which stemmed from international travel, has also been determined to be a case of the UK COVID-19 variant. 

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The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom, is more infectious than COVID-19, meaning it can spread between individuals quicker.

Kandola said there were three contacts related to the Yellowknife case, who were all isolating and doing well. Those numbers haven’t changed since the case was first reported on April 5.

Kandola added there was no identified public exposure risk stemming from the Yellowknife case, because the person was deemed not infectious during travel and is suspected of having been infected with the virus while outside the territory.

There is also no exposure risk to NWT communities connected to the cases at Diavik.

“Many workers onsite were assessed as being at very low risk of any exposure and have already left the worksite to return home,” Kandola said in a statement. “Many others will be returning home in the next few days as long as the situation remains unchanged.”

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The NWT sends a sample of the virus detected from all those diagnosed with COVID-19 to labs in southern Canada to test for any variants of concern, Kandola added.

Throughout Canada, there are over 22,500 cases of the UK COVID-19 variant in Canada – with over 7,000 of those being reported in Alberta. There are also more than a thousand cases of the P.1 variant and hundreds of cases of the B.1.351 variant. 

Two cases of the UK variant were reported at Fort Chipewyan in March.

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