Coronavirus

NWT orders self-isolation for workers returning from Kearl Lake


The Northwest Territories ordered any residents who have worked at Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake site, in Alberta, to self-isolate over a risk of Covid-19 exposure.

The territory’s chief public health officer on Friday asked anyone in the NWT who recently worked at Kearl Lake, including sub-contractors, to self-isolate immediately and stay isolated until two weeks after their return date.

“This request is due to reports of potential ongoing Covid-19 transmission and to allow for self-identification of NWT residents who may have worked at the site in any capacity,” said the NWT government in a statement.

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“If you worked at the Kearl Lake site, you are advised that in addition to self-isolating, you monitor yourself and immediately report any signs and symptoms of Covid-19 for the duration of the self-isolation period,” the territory added, issuing a symptom monitoring sheet.

There have been more than 80 cases of Covid-19 linked to Kearl Lake, though none of the patients have to date been NWT residents.

Kearl Lake is an oilsands facility 40 km north of Fort McMurray. Imperial reportedly began testing workers at the site in mid-April.

The location of Kearl Lake.

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The spread of Covid-19 within a remote workplace remains a risk in the Northwest Territories, where two diamond mines are operational and oil and gas camps have permission to continue their work.

The NWT’s chief public health officer has issued specific orders mandating that companies take various precautions during the pandemic.

Ministers have repeatedly stated they believe the territory’s mines are safe and have faith in the measures being implemented by the mine operators.

The Ekati mine, however, closed down in March over concerns about the spread of Covid-19.

Earlier this week, Dr Deena Hinshaw – Alberta’s chief medical officer of health – said Kearl Lake “has lots of measures in place to make sure anyone who is a confirmed case and anyone who has any symptoms are isolated and away from others.”

She added: “When this outbreak was first identified we talked about the fact that we did expect there would be additional cases reported, given it can take up to two weeks from an exposure for cases to become apparent.”

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