2 positive cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Nunavut's Hope Bay mine

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Two positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at Hope Bay mine, according to Nunavut's chief public health officer.

In a news release sent late Saturday afternoon by the territorial government, Dr. Michael Patterson announced the cases at the mine, which is 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay.

Both people were identified as being exposed in their home jurisdictions prior to travel, according to the release, but that wasn't identified until after they arrived at the mine site.

"Both miners are asymptomatic and were immediately isolated and swabbed for the virus," said Dr. Patterson in the release.

A spokeswoman for the premier said that since the cases didn't originate in the territory they'll instead be counted in other jurisdictions.

The samples tested positive on the GeneXpert device in Rankin Inlet late Wednesday, and were confirmed at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg on Saturday.

The release said there is no evidence of transmission within the Hope Bay mine site, and that Nunavut's public health team is ready to provide support and respond if, and when it's necessary.

"Hope Bay Mine is an isolated location, and no Nunavut residents currently work there. The risk of COVID-19 spreading in our communities because of these cases remains very low," said Minister of Health George Hickes in the release.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and we will keep Nunavummiut informed if anything changes."