B.C. and Saskatchewan issue COVID-19 warnings following cases at oilsands site

The number of cases at the facility has risen to 12

COVID-19. (Courtesy the CDC)

Health officials in British Columbia and Saskatchewan are advising people to self-isolate if they’re returning from an area of Alberta where an oilsands site is suffering from a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said in a statement that it and the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority have begun a contact tracing investigation into new cases of the novel coronavirus in the province’s north that are related to cross-boundary travel.

Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, medical health officer with the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, said some of those new cases are linked with travel from Kearl Lake, an oilsands site north of Fort McMurray.

“This is based on information we have so far — the investigation is still ongoing,” Ndubuka wrote in an email. “We are also working with community health staff to identify individuals who might have been exposed to these cases.”

The SHA said that all northern Saskatchewan residents should self-isolate for 14 days after returning from northern Alberta, and advises against all non-essential travel between northwest Saskatchewan and northern Alberta.

The Interior Health region in British Columbia also advised Saturday that ”contacts or potential contacts” with the Kearl Lake site should self-isolate for 14 days after their last flights home.

“Many residents in the Interior Health region travel to work camps in Alberta for employment,” a statement on Interior Health’s website said on Saturday. ”There is potential for transmission between communities and between our provinces.”

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Friday the number of Alberta cases arising from the facility north of Fort McMurray had risen to 12.

Oilsands operators rely on workers from across the country who fly to sites and stay there for several days or weeks at a time, and the sites continue to operate amid the pandemic as an essential service.

Imperial, which owns Kearl along with ExxonMobil Canada, said as of Thursday it had two active COVID-19 cases on site, and 10 active cases away from the site.

Simon Younger, vice-president of production at Imperial, said at the time that the company had completed contact tracing for these individuals and asked other workers to self-isolate while further testing was underway.

The company said earlier that it had bolstered cleaning and sterilization practices, and that employees are being screened at flight centres, on daily bus trips and at the site, including having their temperatures monitored.

It also said it took steps to ensure social distancing at camp and on the worksite.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusoil and gas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

7 projects in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Burns Lake receive NKDF funding

Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society announced $139,702 in funding on May 29.

School buses for SD91 to start running from June 1

Parents urged to drop off and pick kids up whenever possible.

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

COVID-19: Fort St. James pharmacy reported to Northern Health for ‘spreading misconceptions’

“We can confirm that there have been lab-confirmed cases across the north - in both large and small communities,” says Northern Health.

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read