This article was published in November 2020 and may be outdated.
Manitoba Hydro is reporting today that a second round of COVID-19 testing for all workers at the Keeyask Generating Station construction site identified one additional confirmed positive case and another four “not clear” or presumptive cases. The 508 tests were administered over three days, between Thursday, November 12 and Saturday, November 14.
“We conducted this second round of testing all workers at site out of an abundance of caution as a prudent and proactive step to continue to limit of COVID-19 transmission at the Keeyask site,” said Jay Grewal, Manitoba Hydro’s President & Chief Executive Officer. “We continue to work with public health officials to rapidly identify, isolate, test and trace any and all COVID-19 cases and their close contacts.”
“Thanks to the steps taken over two weeks ago, we have seen a significant reduction in the number of confirmed and presumptive positive tests, and more importantly, a large reduction in the number of close contacts,” she said. “Workers at the site are doing the right things to manage the virus. I cannot stress how critical it is that each of us continue to do the right things and act together to ensure we have a safe environment for work to continue. We are all in this together.”
Two additional confirmed positive cases reported last Thursday involved close contacts who were isolating offsite and subsequently sought a COVID-19 test on the advice of public health officials. Thirty-three individuals so far are listed as having recovered.
Manitoba Hydro continues to implement its pandemic plan and additional measures inline with public health guidance. All workers with either a confirmed positive or presumptive result were immediately isolated and public health officials are completing contact tracing. Workers with presumptive results on the initial screening test are awaiting results of a second test processed by the Cadham Provincial Lab.
At the first indication of COVID-19 on site at Keeyask, Manitoba Hydro took immediate action, including the proactive decision to test and trace all on-site workers. A total of 24 positive cases and eight “not clear” or presumptive cases were identified through the initial round of testing that was completed on October 31. Over 130 identified close contacts have been isolated.
Manitoba Hydro had also temporarily reduced the workforce at site to approximately 550 workers from the more than 770 workers at site in October. This included extending shifts for some workers already at site and stopping all travel to the site, with the exception of a small number of workers needed to continue critical work.
Upcoming workforce rotations will now resume to refresh individuals who voluntarily extended their work rotations or who are at the end of their normal rotations. These rotations will also augment the workforce to ensure that critical work on the commissioning of the station’s first generator can continue and the construction on subsequent units can resume.
Prior to travelling to Keeyask, all workers, regardless of where they are travelling from, will have completed a 14-day isolation and received a “clear” result on a PCR screening test. This action is consistent with the elevation of locations, like the Winnipeg metropolitan area, to pandemic level red or critical.
Some flexibility will be required for small numbers of specialty crews to support commissioning efforts. This is and will continue to be reviewed on a case by case basis with public health officials. In these circumstances, these speciality workers will have no contact with other individuals at the Keeyask site and will be housed off site to maintain their separate cohort.
“As we have throughout the pandemic, we want to ensure absolute transparency in our dealings with our stakeholders and partners,” said Grewal.
Manitoba Hydro continues to provide frequent updates to First Nations partners, site employees, contractors, unions, public health, and all Manitobans, sharing information as it becomes available.
For more on Manitoba Hydro’s response to COVID-19 at Keeyask, including a complete list of all current measures in place, the project’s pandemic response plan and additional information on the temporary workforce reduction, read our response to COVID-19 at Keeyask.
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