Manitoba

16 workers at Keeyask test positive for COVID-19, another 15 given 'not clear' result: MB Hydro

Sixteen workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Keeyask Hydroelectric Project in northern Manitoba, while another 15 were given a "not clear" result and are awaiting confirmation from the provincial lab, Manitoba Hydro said. 

MKO says officials told them 31 workers at Keeyask site have tested positive for COVID-19

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak says they were told 31 workers at the Keeyask dam project have tested positive for COVID-19. (Manitoba Hydro)

Sixteen workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Keeyask hydroelectric project in northern Manitoba, while another 15 were given a "not clear" result and are awaiting confirmation from the provincial lab, Manitoba Hydro says.

On Monday, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak — which represents northern First Nations in the province — said they were told by public health officials that 31 workers at the Keeyask site have tested positive for COVID-19.

Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said Monday afternoon that so far, 16 workers have been confirmed positive, while another 15 workers received a "not clear" result from the initial screening test performed by Manitoba Hydro's contracted laboratory.

Any "not clear" result identified by the initial test is confirmed by a second test processed by the Cadham Provincial Lab, Owen said. 

That count is up from Saturday, when five people at Keeyask had tested positive for COVID-19, while another 12 had unclear results of their initial screening.

Last week, Manitoba Hydro said it was testing its entire workforce at the site — roughly 760 people — after five workers tested positive for COVID-19.

All of the workers have now been tested, and currently 90 workers are in isolation at the project site, Owen said. 

First Nations demand more transparency

In a news release from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak dated Nov. 1, Dr. Barry Lavallee — the medical advisor for MKO health entity Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin — advised First Nations members at Keeyask, or those who have recently left the site, to self-isolate.

The news release goes on to say that MKO officials are planning to meet with Manitoba Hydro about the situation Monday and "will be demanding that they step up and provide clear and transparent communication to the people working at the Keeyask construction project."

Manitoba Hydro also said last week that it would be reducing its workforce at the site.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs also expressed concerns Monday over the situation at Keeyask, repeating MKO's demand for the site to be placed under code red in the province's pandemic response system. 

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas also called for more transparency from Manitoba Hydro, demanding that the Crown corporation give chiefs with from neighbouring First Nations the info and resources they need. 

He said AMC is concerned about the testing and isolation methods Manitoba Hydro has implemented, as neighbouring First Nations haven't been privy to that information. 

"As First Nations we will do what is reasonable and realistic within our homes to self isolate as mandated by our leadership and public health professionals," Dumas said.

But "First Nations demand that Manitoba Hydro be forthcoming about the extent of the outbreak, with the testing data and numbers of workers currently on site at Keeyask," he added.

"We, again, demand that First Nations be a part of the conversation and work together to find a safe and efficient solution."

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