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Syncrude employee and contractor test positive for COVID-19, virus contracted off-site – Fort McMurray Today

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Syncrude Canada’s base plant, located north of Fort McMurray, reflected in an ongoing reclamation project of a tailings pond, on Sunday, August 11, 2019. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network ORG XMIT: POS1908121811593871

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Syncrude Canada is confirming that an employee and a contract worker have recently tested positive for COVID-19. The company says the source of infection for both cases was off site.

According to company spokesperson Will Gibson, the employee began showing symptoms during days off, which was on a six-day rotation.

The employee immediately quarantined themselves, contacted Alberta Health Services and did not go into work.

Contact tracing shows the employee came into contact with a presumptive COVID-19 patient when the employee was not working. That presumptive case is not a Syncrude employee.

“AHS has told us this case poses no risk to the organization,” said Gibson. “This employee did everything right.”

The second case was found in a contractor who last reported to a Syncrude operation sometime late last week. The company the individual worked for is not being named.

Health authorities are doing contact tracing and getting in touch with anyone who may have come into contact with this individual. Once those people are identified, they will be told to quarantine themselves.

Syncrude was told about the employee’s positive results on April 22 and the contractor’s results on April 21.

Because there is no evidence the virus was contracted at any of Syncrude’s operations, the province has not declared an outbreak.

“These are two unrelated cases,” said Gibson. “We have prepared for a case in our workforce. We are taking this seriouslty and we’ve had plans well in place to address any potential impacts based on previous pandemics, all the way back to H1N1 and SARS.”

Gibson did not know where the two individuals lived full-time, but said they would have spent at least some time in Fort McMurray during their shifts. They were not travelling into any Syncrude work site when they began showing symptoms.

He also said the company has also scaled back its workforce since the pandemic began. Gibson did not have any specific numbers on Thursday, but confirmed there are “thousands less” working at Syncrude during the crisis.

Nine active cases in Fort McMurray, 32 connected to Kearl Lake outbreak

The total number of active cases in Fort McMurray is now nine. Another four people have recovered. Two people in Wood Buffalo’s rural areas have recovered and there are no active cases in those communities.

Currently, 32 cases have been linked to Kearl Lake. Of these cases, 25 cases are still in Alberta. Ten workers are quarantined at the camp, while 15 workers tested positive after leaving the camp.

The other seven cases are being treated in other provinces. Five of those cases are in B.C. and there is one case each in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

Alberta Health Services declared an outbreak at the camp on April 16, when three workers tested positive for the virus. An outbreak is declared over after one month without any new cases.

On Thursday, Alberta saw an increase of 319 new cases, bringing the provincial total to 3,720. There has been a total of 1,357 recoveries.

There were two new deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 68.

vmcdermott@postmedia.com

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B.C. health officials say quick steps taken to help protect care homes – Prince George Citizen

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VICTORIA — The deaths of two more COVID-19 patients at long-term care homes in B.C. were mourned by provincial health officials Thursday, but they said lives may have been saved by the province’s quick response to the pandemic.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said measures to fight COVID-19 possibly contributed to holding the number of deaths to less than 100 at long-term care homes while other provinces recorded thousands of fatalities.

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“We don’t know the specific impact of the measures, but we know the large measures that have been taken have had positive effect,” Dix said at a news conference.

He said B.C. ensured workers were able to be employed at a single care home, personal protective equipment was made available to workers, special health teams were brought in at the first signs of COVID-19 and visits were restricted at the homes.

“I think that B.C., though, can be proud of its long-term care workers,” said Dix. “We’ve adopted from the beginning a team B.C. approach to how we deal with this issue. I am, of course, saddened that we’ve lost 93 people, residents who live in long-term care.”

B.C. reported nine new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 2,558 people diagnosed with the virus. The total number of COVID-19 deaths stood at 164 people and 2,153 people have recovered from the disease.

Henry said efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes is difficult but the province has been applying the many lessons it learned in an early outbreak at North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre.

She said it was difficult to estimate how effective B.C.’s prevention measures were at the homes.

“We can only by analogy look at what happens in other places,” Henry said.

Thousands of residents at long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario have died of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, specialized health teams have been sent to fight COVID-19 outbreaks at two Metro Vancouver long-term care homes.

The Fraser Health Authority appointed a pandemic response director on Thursday at Langley Lodge, where more than 20 people have died from the virus in recent weeks.

It also sent extra staff to Nicola Lodge in Port Coquitlam after one resident tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19, said Dr. Martin Lavoie, Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer. The resident was placed in isolation at the lodge, he said.

“Over the past several weeks we’ve been supporting and offering guidance to Langley Lodge in different ways,” Lavoie said at a news conference.

“Today, we’re talking further action and we have appointed our own director of pandemic response to provide oversight of the COVID-19 response at Langley Lodge and also to further support the facility leadership and staff.”

The lodge website says it is a not-for-profit registered charity run by the Langley Care Society.

It says the lodge in Langley provides long-term care for adults who can no longer live safely or independently at home because of their health-care needs. The lodge includes 121 funded spaces and 14 private pay spaces.

An official at the lodge referred questions about the COVID-19 outbreak to Fraser Health.

Lavoie said the COVID-19 outbreak at the lodge has been difficult to control.

“It is our hope that these additional measures will support the site in controlling this complex outbreak,” he said. “We’re taking all the necessary steps to minimize the exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.”

Lavoie said extra nurses and staff are being called in along with infection control specialists who will use a specialized ultraviolet germ sterilization machine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020.

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COVID-19 case identified at second Port Coquitlam seniors home – The Record (New Westminster)

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A resident at a Port Coquitlam long-term care facility has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the third seniors care home in the Tri-Cities with at least one case of the coronavirus. 

Fraser Health identified the case at Nicola Lodge Wednesday, May 27, and the resident has been put into isolation at the facility.

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“This facility outbreak is a recent one. We’re still looking into it,” said Fraser Health’s top doctor, Dr. Martin Lavoie. 

Fraser Health does not currently know how the virus entered the facility.

Lavoie added that Fraser Health is in the process of investigating whether anyone has been in contact with the infected resident. Meanwhile, Fraser Health SWAT teams have implemented “enhanced control measures.”

The case marks a third flare up of the novel coronavirus in a Tri-City care home and the only active case in such a facility after the Shaughnessy and Dufferin care homes had their outbreaks declared over in recent weeks.

Nicola Lodge also marks the 17th seniors homes run by Sienna Living that has identified at least one case of COVID-19, according to a tally on their website. Most are in Ontario, including the Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, one of five seniors homes singled out in a recent report by the Canadian Armed Forces, which had been sent in to aid staff. 

The report, released Tuesday, details “horrific” allegations of insect infestations, aggressive resident feeding that caused choking, bleeding infections, and residents crying for help for hours across the five facilities.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called it “the most heart-wrenching report” he’s ever read in his life, according to a report by the Canadian Press.

At Sienna Living’s Altamont Care Community, the report detailed several allegations of neglect, including residents not receiving three-meals a day, bed sores worn through ligament and tissue to the bone and dangerous errors in administering medication. 

The military said it brought in its own food to make sure residents were fed.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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Two more deaths, eight cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa while local resolved rate hits new high – OttawaMatters.com

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting two more local deaths related to COVID-19, but it’s also seeing a higher resolved rate of cases than ever before.

The local death toll is now at 240.

Eight new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the community on Thursday brings Ottawa’s total to 1,930 to date. Of those, 1,544 have been resolved, putting the city’s resolved rate at 80 per cent for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Due to a lack of community testing, OPH says the overall case count could be anywhere from five to 30 times higher than what has been recorded. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches is urging anyone with even the slightest of symptoms to get tested. Residents who are asymptomatic, but would like to be tested are also welcome at the assessment centre at Brewer Arena or at one of the COVID-19 care clinics.

There are 37 Ottawa residents with COVID-19 currently in hospital and 18 outbreaks in local institutions. 

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