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Musselwhite Mine COVID outbreak this month confirmed to be variant of concern

Thunder Bay District Health Unit identified 10 cases from April 21 outbreak
Musselwhite Mine (8)
(Newmont Gold photo)

The outbreak of COVID-19 at the Musselwhite gold mine that was declared on April 21 was recently confirmed to be a variant subtype with 10 cases in total, according to the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

The outbreak is reported to be under control.

Newmont's Musselwhite Mine is a remote fly-in, fly-out operation 480 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

The health unit warns that variants of concern (VOC) have been increasing in recent weeks in the district. To date, there are 25 cases that were VOCs, with 21 identified in the last two weeks.

The health unit points to several recent variant cases are associated with rail transportation workers. The investigation and management of this is in progress.

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The health unit said variants of COVID-19 make up the majority of cases in Ontario and are the main driver of the current wave of this pandemic. Two variant subtypes have been identified: B.1.1.7, which is the most common in Ontario, and a subtype with two mutations that is currently undergoing further testing to determine which variant it is.

Most variant cases in the Thunder Bay District are associated with exposure outside the region with some secondary transmission from those individuals occurring in this area.

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“It is not surprising that we are seeing VOCs here," said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janet DeMille. "Overall, we are in a good situation with case numbers, but we all need to maintain our vigilance to prevent the VOCs getting a hold here and spreading in our area.

“One situation, one outbreak could set us off again. Stay at home as much as possible, interact only with those in your household, immediately isolate if you get symptoms and get tested. When you are outside your home, abide by all the measures to protect yourself and others.”