British Columbia’s interior health region said “contacts or potential contacts” with the Kearl Lake oil sands site are expected to be isolated for 14 days after their last return flight.
“Many residents in the domestic health region are going to labor camps in Alberta to find employment,” said a statement on the domestic health website on Saturday. “There is a potential for transmission between communities and between our provinces.”
The Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health said Friday that the number of cases in Alberta from the facility north of Fort McMurray has increased to 12.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said in a statement on Saturday that it and the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority had launched an investigation into contact tracing into new cases of new coronavirus in the north of the province related to cross-border movement.
The statement says there have been reports of a number of COVID-19 cases at an oil sands facility north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, although it did not specify the installation of Kearl or if one of the new cases in Saskatchewan is linked to this epidemic.
But he said that all residents of northern Saskatchewan should be isolated for 14 days after returning from northern Alberta.
“Advise against non-essential travel”
“Recognizing that there are close links between communities with regular interprovincial travel for work and for other reasons, there is a potential for community transmission with continuous non-essential travel between communities across the border, “said the SHA statement.
“As such, regional medical officers of health advise against non-essential travel between northwestern Saskatchewan and northern Alberta effective immediately and until further notice.”
Oil sands operators rely on workers from across the country to go to the sites and stay there for days or weeks at a time, and the sites continue to operate in the midst of the pandemic as an essential service.
Imperial Oil, which owns Kearl with ExxonMobil Canada, said Thursday it has two active COVID-19 cases at the site and 10 active cases away from the site.
Simon Younger, vice president of production at Imperial Oil, said at the time that the company had completed contact tracing for these people and asked other workers to isolate themselves while d other tests were in progress.
The company said earlier that it has strengthened cleaning and sterilization practices and that employees are screened in flight centers, on daily bus trips and on site, including monitoring their temperatures.
He also said that he had taken steps to ensure social distance at the camp and on the construction site.