2nd COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada worksite in Kitimat, B.C.
13 employees of Diversified Transportation have tested positive so far
A second COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the LNG Canada worksite in Kitimat, B.C., this time among employees of Diversified Transportation.
Northern Health says 15 of the approximately 40 Diversified Transportation employees at LNG Canada have tested positive for the virus so far.
The health authority says the outbreak is unrelated to one declared Nov. 19 in which 56 people tested positive. That outbreak was linked to work sites run by JGC Fluor, and the most recent positive case there was reported Dec. 2.
The new outbreak declaration will be in place for at least 28 days.
Dr. David Bowering, the former chief medical health officer for Northern Health, called the news "disappointing."
Bowering has gone on record opposing work camps at major industrial projects during the pandemic, saying that by flying workers into and out of small, remote communities, extra risk is being added to already-strained health-care systems.
The province, however, has argued that safety protocols developed with industry have allowed it to keep the economy moving while maintaining public health.
Dr. Bowering said those most impacted by the province's decision are those who "have to" keep working on the projects, such as bus drivers and janitorial staff — people who tend to be lower paid and less able to protect themselves from infection.
"I really feel for all the people involved, because it really does tend to impact the most marginalized at-risk people, those who really need those jobs," Bowering said.
After the first LNG Canada outbreak, janitors working at LNG Canada employed by the sub-contractor Dexterra spoke out about what they called unsafe working conditions, combined with low pay and a lack of communication when new COVID-19 cases were reported.
Northern Health said it is working with the companies involved in the outbreak to manage the spread of the virus and to ensure there is open communication about safety concerns.