Worker at Keeyask Dam tests positive for COVID-19

A worker at the Keeyask Hydroelectric Project in northern Manitoba has tested positive for COVID-19, Manitoba Hydro confirmed on Tuesday.

Chief of nearby Tataskweyak Cree Nation wants all workers tested

A worker at the Keeyask Dam was sent off site after testing positive for COVID-19, Manitoba Hydro confirms. (Manitoba Hydro)

A worker at the Keeyask Hydroelectric Project in northern Manitoba has tested positive for COVID-19, Manitoba Hydro confirmed on Tuesday.

The worker was isolated and has been transferred off-site, according to Bruce Owen, a spokesperson for the Crown corporation.

"Manitoba Health officials have been notified and are performing tracing and testing of close contacts, who have also been placed in isolation pending their test results as a precaution," Owen said in an email.

He says there are a number of protocols Manitoba Hydro has had in place throughout the pandemic.

Workers from within the province have to complete a screening questionnaire before coming to the site, which is about 710 kilometres north of Winnipeg. They also must self-screen every day at work, seek testing if they're symptomatic and self-isolate if they're a suspected COVID-19 case.

Workers coming from areas that are designated orange, or "restricted," according to the province's colour-coded pandemic response system, have their temperatures taken twice a day.

Those coming to site from out of the country, or areas east of Terrace Bay, Ont. have to self-isolate for 14 days before travelling to site.

Masks are mandatory in common areas, Owen said.

"We continue to work with public health officials to ensure all our pandemic protocols reflect the latest guidance in order to keep staff and members of neighbouring communities as safe as possible."

Tataskweyak chief wants all employees tested

The chief of nearby Tataskweyak Cree Nation said she wants movement in and out of Keeyask halted until every employee is tested for COVID-19.

Doreen Spence said health officials told her Tuesday afternoon there is a second presumptive case of COVID-19 — a close contact of the first Manitoba Hydro employee who tested positive.

"There's a lot of cases that are in Winnipeg right now, people are traveling in and out from there," Spence said.

"The way I see it is, why risk people's lives to continue with the project? We have to make sure that everybody is safe. For my community, we are 45 minutes away. We have people over there, too. We want to make sure that they're safe as well," she said.

Right now, Tataskweyak is not letting its community members who work at Keeyask back onto the First Nation until they've been tested for COVID-19, she said.

"I'm worried because right now in our community, we're not ready," she said.

There are no isolation areas set up, and the previous positive case was removed from the community so they could self isolate, she said.

"I'm basically afraid this is going to spread to our members. We have elders. We also have people with immuno-compromised problems. Those are the ones that I worry about," she said.

With files from Marina von Stackelberg