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Detour Lake Mine worker tests positive for COVID-19

Kirkland Lake Gold says the health unit has contacted people who were in close contact
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A worker at Kirkland Lake Gold's Detour Lake Mine has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the company, the worker arrived at the remote mine site near Cochrane with no symptoms March 12. He started showing symptoms March 14 and self-isolated. He was taken from the site the morning of March 16. He received the positive result Thursday, March 26 and Kirkland Lake Gold was informed the next day.

"All Detour Lake Mine employees were notified upon the Company being informed of the positive test on March 27 with instruction to be particularly vigilant in self-monitoring for signs of symptoms, particularly until March 30th (14 days after the worker’s departure from site)," reads a news release.

Kirkland Lake Gold said people identified by the worker as being in close contact have been directly contacted by the Porcupine Health Unit. PHU visited the mine site March 28 at the company's request to review the health and safety protocols related to COVID-19.

"The Company is not aware of any workers at Detour Lake Mine, or at any of its other operations or offices, that are showing symptoms or are in self-isolation at site," reads the statement.

In the Porcupine Health Unit region, there are currently 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That includes five cases in Timmins and five in Cochrane.

Last week, Kirkland Lake Gold announced reduced operations at Detour Lake Mine in response to the pandemic.

"At Kirkland Lake Gold, nothing is more important than the health and safety of the Company’s workers, their families and the communities in which they live and work. In response to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, a number of health and safety protocols have been introduced," reads today's update. "The Company’s response to COVID-19 is being constantly reviewed as developments occur and will be adjusted as required to ensure the wellbeing of the Company’s employees."

The new health and safety protocols include:

  • Employees that can work from home are being instructed to do so.
  • All non-essential work has been suspended, including exploration activities and transitioning Detour Lake Mine to reduced operations. All non-essential visits are prohibited until further notice.
  • Medical screening is being done for all people arriving at work, including having their temperature taken and completing a World Health Organization medical questionnaire.
  • There is increased cleaning and sanitizing being done, especially in commonly visited areas, handwashing stations have been added, and work areas and equipment are being wiped down with sanitizer after use. 
  • Processes have been set up for the isolation, testing and care of employees showing signs of illness.
  • To ensure mandatory social distancing, the start and finish times of shifts are being staggered to minimize the gathering of people, chairs have been removed and spaced out in meeting areas, work teams are reduced in size, and workers are being separated by floor markings and barriers in confined areas. Meetings are largely being done via video conferencing.
  • For meals, there are handwashing stations in all eating areas, self-serve options have been removed and, instead, meals are individually wrapped, and silverware and trays are being kept behind counters.
  • There is also job protection for workers in quarantine or self-isolation due to COVID-19, or who have to miss work to care for children during school closures.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 — fever, dry cough and/or shortness of breath — call the Porcupine Health Unit information line at 1-800-461-1818. 

It's available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you leave a message, staff will get back to you within 24 hours.

The COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Timmins is located at the Intrepid Centre at the Canadian Mental Health Association's branch on Second Avenue. 

It is by appointment only, with people needing a referral from their doctor, Porcupine Health Unit or Telehealth. Find out what you need to know about how to access it here.