FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Northern Health has officially declared an outbreak at the Site C Dam project in Fort St. John, B.C.
In a media release, health officials explained that the declaration follows evidence of COVID-19 transmission among employees working primarily on civil works and excavation for the project.
Testing has confirmed 34 cases related to the outbreak among five clusters. A total of 13 cases remain active. The two most recent and currently active clusters are among employees of Peace River Hydro Partners (PRHP) and include a total of 7 active cases.
“Over the last year, we’ve implemented a comprehensive plan to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at Site C, including aligning with health guidelines, screening every person accessing the site daily, using thermal scanners at various entry and exit points, and maintaining increased cleaning and physical distancing,” said Chris O’Riley, president and CEO of BC Hydro. “However, the declaration of the outbreak demonstrates that we need to do better, and we will. In addition to the steps we are already taking, we will look to implement further measures in the coming days.”
Northern Health advised that 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. Northern Health is working with the BC Centre for Disease Control to ensure communication with the health authorities or jurisdictions of affected employees’ home communities outside of BC.
NH Public Health has been working closely with BC Hydro, the Site C project and its contractors, and WorksafeBC, on management of small clusters of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
The outbreak declaration has prompted the following measures:
- Increased focus on COVID-19 prevention measures such as employee screening and physical distancing on the worksite
- Review of COVID-19 safety plans, project-wide
- Ongoing workforce COVID-19 immunizations, including contracted employees and rotational workers
The outbreak declaration will be in place for at least 28 days.