Site C worker cleared after testing positive for COVID-19

A Site C worker who tested positive for COVID-19 has been cleared to leave self-isolation and has returned home. 

BC Hydro announced the case on July 17, and confirmed Wednesday the worker had been cleared by medical staff at the work camp outside Fort St. John.

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“We can confirm the worker that tested positive has been medically cleared by the medical clinic in full compliance with provincial health directives, and has returned home as per their normal shift rotation,” spokesman Greg Alexis said. "Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to provide any further details."

The affected worker arrived from Alberta on July 13, and received their test results from Alberta Health Services on July 15. A second test by Northern Health confirmed the worker was positive on July 16.

A source with knowledge of the case, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the worker was not symptomatic when they arrived for work. The worker had been tested the week prior because of a family member’s surgery, and to ensure they could help tend to their recovery, they said.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and BC Hydro said the worker had a "very small number" of close contacts at the project site who were identified and put into isolation to be monitored.

It was the first test positive case reported at the dam project since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in early March.

There were 1,432 workers at the camp as of July 29, and one reported in self-isolation. There have been no other test positives reported at the site.

Crews are working to a September deadline to divert the Peace River and begin building the kilometre-long earthfill dam across the river channel.

BC Hydro says work continues as planned, and that it has implemented COVID-related safety protocols in recent months. That includes mandatory temperature checks and a Ministry of Health COVID-19 self-assessment of symptoms and recent travel before being allowed on to site. 

There are 2,200 rooms at the work camp, 150 of those available to isolate workers with COVID, or those with symptoms of sneezing, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, cough fever, or difficulty breathing. BC Hydro said isolation numbers can be expected to fluctuate.

Testing is available at the site, but BC Hydro does not report test numbers. CLAC, the union that represents a majority of workers at the site, says some of its members have been tested through the course of the pandemic.

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

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