British Columbia

Multiple Site C workers in isolation following positive case of COVID-19

The worker came from Alberta and is now isolating at the work camp and being cared for by onsite medical staff.

Worker came from Alberta and is being cared for in camp

Construction at the Site C dam project in northern B.C. (BC Hydro/Contributed )

Multiple people are in isolation at the Site C work camp near Fort St. John after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The worker arrived from Alberta on July 13 and received positive test results from Alberta Health on July 15, BC Hydro said.

A second test was conducted by B.C.'s Northern Health Authority, confirming the positive results.

Hydro says the worker is now isolating in a separated area at the camp and being cared for by onsite medical staff.

BC Hydro says the worker had not left the work site or interacted with the community of Fort St. John at any point prior to isolating.

Northern Health is conducting contact tracing at the Site C work camp and other people at the camp are being told to self-monitor for symptoms.

Several other workers are also in isolation as they wait for test results, Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday at a press briefing.

BC Hydro has not said whether the worker was exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 for the two days they were in camp prior to moving into isolation, and Henry said she did not know, either. 

"I do know as soon as the person received information that their test was positive, they reported it," she said.

According to Alberta Health, anyone with fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose or a sore throat is legally required to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control provides similar instructions.

Henry said provincial guidelines for industrial sites will now include a question about whether workers are waiting for COVID-19 test results.

The decision to continue operating the Site C work camp during the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism from a number of individuals and organizations, including Fort St. John city councillors, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and Northern Health's former chief medical health officer.

Henry acknowledged those concerns, but said the way this case is being dealt with by BC Hydro and Northern Health is reassuring.

"BC Hydro has been following all of the protocols," she said. "This person had very little contacts [and] they've not had contact with any of the of the communities around that area."

"That says to us that the protocols that we have in place have worked and are being followed carefully."

Prior to Friday, the Northern Health region had not recorded a positive case of COVID-19 since June 8. 

But on July 17, three new cases in the region were reported, not including the Site C worker.

A spokesperson for the health authority said because the worker was initially tested in Alberta, the case would be added to the out-of-province count and not the running total for Northern Health.

About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in unceded Lheidli T'enneh territory in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca.

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