COVID-19 Outbreak at a Mining Project, Guyana in June 2021.

Respiratory Diseases
Health Information Systems (Including Surveillance)

In June, 2021, an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred at a Mining Project located in the Guyana-Amazon rainforest. The Mining Project had implemented protocols for compound entry, including symptom screening, temperature check, verification of vaccination status and rapid COVID-19 antigen testing. The project employs expatriates, as well as Guyanese nationals. An expatriate worker presented with flu-like symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. A rapid test was conducted, and the test confirmed as being positive. An investigation was mounted to identify additional cases and implement appropriate prevention and control measures.

An outbreak team was convened between June 4 and June 14, 2021 to identify the source of the infection, and to conduct contact tracing, screening and testing. All employees and contracted workers present onsite during that period were screened using rapid COVID-19 antibody and antigen tests. Standard Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) case definitions were applied. Descriptive analysis was carried out and the overall attack rate was calculated.

Fifty (50) persons were identified through contact tracing, and were tested for COVID-19. Most of the individuals in the study, including the index case, were male (78%), around one third (35%) were aged 30-39 years, and the majority (86%) were Guyanese nationals. Of the 51 persons tested, seven (14%) were positive; all presenting with mild symptoms of COVID-19, including fever (14%), headache (14%) and cough (6%). Six (6) persons who tested positive were unvaccinated Guyanese nationals, and five (5) were contracted kitchen workers. The overall attack rate (AR) was 14% (7/51).

Recommendations were to implement RT-PCR testing for those testing positive with the rapid COVID-19 tests; and to review and enforce infection, prevention and control policy as it pertained to use of the dining hall and kitchen area. Full vaccination of employees was encouraged through on-site vaccination campaigns.

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