LNG Canada worker tests positive for COVID-19

A worker at the LNG Canada site has tested positive for COVID-19, the company has confirmed.

The company notified workers in a March 28 letter, saying the individual returned to their home in the region to self-isolate upon experiencing mild symptoms a week earlier. Susannah Pierce, LNG Canada’s director of corporate affairs, confirmed the details of the letter on Wednesday.

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"LNG Canada has been advised that an individual who had been engaged in work on the LNG Canada site had tested positive for COVID-19," Pierce said. "The test was conducted after the individual had experienced mild symptoms and had immediately returned to their home to self-isolate, in accordance with self-isolation advisories and requirements."

Northern Health has informed those who were in contact with the worker. Pierce said the company communicated the case and the steps being taken to its workforce in the March 28 letter.

"We applaud the action taken by the individual who self-isolated immediately upon experiencing symptoms," said Pierce. "Their action has contributed to the prevention of potential further spread."

"Currently, no one staying at the lodges has tested positive for COVID-19," Pierce added. 

Letter to workers:

LNG-Canada-COVID19
LNG Canada March 28 letter to workers re: COVID-19 test positive.

As of Tuesday, there were 15 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Northern Health region, with 1,013 cases and 24 deaths province-wide.

LNG Canada said March 16 it was scaling back its workforce in Kitimat by half in order to reduce exposure to the community and workers already there.

Pierce said the company, along with its main contractor JGC Fluor, continue to monitor and respond to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. Health management plans have been developed with Northern Health, and hygiene campaigns have been put in place at the project site, she said.

"Our core focus remains on protecting the health, safety and well-being of First Nations and community stakeholders living adjacent to our project site in Kitimat and in Terrace, and workers on site who may be at risk of exposure," Pierce said.

Dining room restrictions have been put in place at the work camp: only one person at a time may sit at a table, common touchpoints have been removed, and cleaning and disinfecting frequencies have also been substantially increased, Pierce said. Information about effective hand washing practices and cough etiquette, and good workplace practices, have also been distributed, she said.

"We continue to work with Northern Health to stay up to date on required protocols for identification, testing, and quarantine of suspected cases, and LNG Canada and JFJV are working collaboratively with contractors, medical staff and lodging operators to further align and embed procedures across the project," Pierce said.

Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth said the District is aware of the positive test case, and said LNG Canada is following Northern Health’s direction on the matter.

"The District is overwhelmingly supportive of the proactive measures that LNG Canada and the workforce accommodation centres have taken to date," Germuth said. "Some members of Council have voiced the need for all businesses and industry that use workers from outside the area to continue to pursue all viable measures to protect the community and workers from the spread of COVID-19."

LNG Canada announced March 27 it would provide $500,000 to support the COVID-19 response in both Kitimat and Terrace, with half committed to Northern Health for equipment needs in the region. The remaining half is an in-kind contribution to support local hospitals, Indigenous communities, frontline workers, and service organizations, the company said.

The company says it is also involved in a District of Kitimat-led COVID-19 emergency response committee.

LNG Canada full statement:

LNG Canada has been advised that an individual who had been engaged in work on the LNG Canada site had tested positive for COVID-19. The test was conducted after the individual had experienced mild symptoms and had immediately returned to their home to self-isolate, in accordance with self-isolation advisories and requirements.

Northern Health was contacted and engaged their response process to communicate with any potential contacts. LNG Canada has no line of sight to that process, but communicated the case and the steps taken to its workforce on March 28.

We applaud the action taken by the individual who self-isolated immediately upon experiencing symptoms. Their action has contributed to the prevention of potential further spread. Currently, no one staying at the lodges has tested positive for COVID-19.

LNG Canada and our Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor, JFJV, continue to closely monitor and respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Our core focus remains on protecting the health, safety and well-being of First Nations and community stakeholders living adjacent to our project site in Kitimat and in Terrace, and workers on site who may be at risk of exposure.

JFJV and LNG Canada continue to formally communicate to the project workforce and subcontractors actions to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, while providing daily situational updates.

Preventing the spread of infection and protecting the health, safety and well-being of local communities and workers at site is our primary focus. Together with JFJV and our lodging providers, we have launched specific hygiene campaigns across the project; these include information about effective hand washing practices and cough etiquette, and good workplace practices. In dining areas inside lodges, only one person at a time may sit at a table. Common touchpoints have been removed. Cleaning and disinfecting frequencies have been substantially increased.

Effective management of communicable diseases, including COVID-19, is a key part of our Health Management Plans, developed in consultation with Northern Health, the regional health authority.

We continue to work with Northern Health to stay up to date on required protocols for identification, testing, and quarantine of suspected cases, and LNG Canada and JFJV are working collaboratively with contractors, medical staff and lodging operators to further align and embed procedures across the project.

For more information and updates, please refer to our website. 

This is a developing story.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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