Thunder Bay District Health confirms 3 new cases of COVID-19, 2 connected to Lac Des Iles mine

Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) reported three new COVID-19 cases in people in the region Friday, with two of those cases connected to the outbreak at the Lac Des Iles (LDI) mine.

The cases include a man in his 50s and a man in his 40s who both contracted the virus through an exposure at the LDI mine. Both men are self-isolating, the TBDHU announced in a written release.

The third positive case is a man in his 20s, who was exposed through a close contact. The TBDHU said he is also self-isolating. 

 Impala Canada said Friday there are now 14 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 connected to LDI,  two in the TBDHU jurisdiction, including a case in the Greenstone area, and the third was confirmed by the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU).

The company said additional testing of LDI team members is underway, with cases also coming back negative. 

“We continue to stay in touch with these individuals and their families, offering our care and support,” said Erin Satterthwaite, vice president of corporate affairs and communications for Impala Canada 

Pandemic response protocols were implemented at LDI, and twice scrutinized and deemed best practice by TBBHU, she noted.

“Despite our collective best efforts, the coronavirus spread amongst some of our team. The growing number of cases reinforces how fierce this virus really is and we continue to fight it together as a team with a singular focus: stop any further spread. In everything we are doing right now – whether at home, on site or at the hotel – we are putting health and safety first,” Satterthwaite said in a written statement.

Impala Canada, which owns and operates the mine, said it had transferred most of its employees off site as of Monday, with employees who were unable to quarantine at home, or would have to travel across the country, to stay in a hotel in Thunder Bay.

Management and staff of the LDI operation, who were not subject to quarantine, along with security personnel and public health inspectors from the TBDHU, are at the hotel 24/7, the company said, to ensure all protocols from public health are followed.

All people who have travelled outside of Canada are directed to self-isolate for 14 days from their arrival in Canada.

Weekend drive-thru testing appointments full

The TBDHU also announced Friday that the drive-thru testing for –COVID-19 on April 18 – 19 is full, and that the health unit is no longer taking bookings, but people who are showing symptoms are asked to call TBDHU for a help with a referral.

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care.

There is now an Online Portal to access COVID-19 test results directly from the provincial laboratory system. This portal was launched April 12 by the Ontario government and offers fast and secure access to test results on your computer and mobile device, the TBDHU stated.

For additional information about COVID-19 and the TBDHU area, please see the TBDHU website and social media channels. Additional updates will also be provided as needed. More information can also be found by visiting the Ontario government coronavirus website.

The Public Health Agency of Canada posts information on COVID-19 exposures on flights, cruise ships, and mass gatherings.

The total number of cases across northwestern Ontario as of April 17 is 60, plus a person who was identified as part of the Northwestern Health Unit area, but resides in southern Ontario.

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