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COVID-19 outbreak at Site C Dam sends 100 workers into isolation

Last Updated Apr 29, 2021 at 8:04 pm PDT

Construction at the Site C Dam location in June, 2020. (Courtesy BC Hydro)

In total, 34 people have tested positive since early April, 13 cases remain active

Northern Health has allowed work to continue after a replacement crew was brought in

FORT ST. JOHN (NEWS 1130) — Work continues on the Site-C dam near Fort St. John, where an outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared.

Northern Health declared the outbreak Thursday after “evidence of COVID-19 transmission among employees.” In total, 34 people have tested positive since early April, but the health authority says just 13 cases remain active.

“Employees are being screened, and contact tracing is continuing. Those identified as cases and close contacts have been instructed to self-isolate, either at their worksite accommodations, or in their home communities,” a statement from the health authority says.

BC Hydro spokesperson Shanna Mason says there are about 1,400 workers currently on site, and about 100 have been ordered to self-isolate.

“We isolated a very large number of workers in a proactive way, in relation to these cases, and we did that so that we can ensure we break the chain of transmission,” she explains.

“Our workforce is used to isolation. Workers understand that what they’re seeing at camp is a reflection of what they’re seeing in the general population, and that we have protocols in place to quickly identify where somebody may be a positive case.”

Although a significant number of workers have been affected, those people have been replaced.

“Northern Health has determined there’s no need to stop the work related to these cases. So, although we’ve isolated the crew, we have brought in other workers to continue the work that we know have not been in contact with this group,” Mason says.

So far this month, 1,500 workers have been vaccinated, but some of those now isolating may not have been fully immunized before testing positive.

“The initial cluster started in early April, and that’s very close to when we had initially started our vaccine campaign. So, there’s a bit of overlap between those two things.”

The outbreak declaration remains in effect for 28 days.