Second outbreak at LNG site in Kitimat sees 15 test positive for COVID-19
VANCOUVER -- A second COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat.
The outbreak has seen more than a dozen workers test positive for COVID-19, according to a news release from the local health authority responsible for northern B.C.
“To date, 15 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in association with this outbreak, and 13 of the cases are considered active,” reads the statement from Northern Health.
The outbreak was declared after “finding evidence of COVID-19 transmission among staff of Diversified Transportation working at the project site,” it continues.
Forty people work in the specialized unit, says Northern Health, and all have since been tested for COVID-19.
The outbreak is “unrelated” to the site’s other outbreak that was declared on Nov. 19, and “which has seen no new cases since Dec. 2,” says Northern Health.
Members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have already urged the province to shut down the LNG site and its associated camps as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.
In a Nov. 30 letter responding to the first outbreak, members cite concerns that workers could increase the likelihood of spreading the virus into their communities. The letter was signed by nearly two dozen Wet’suwet’en women.
“Our hotels are occupied by LNG workers, we see the traffic through our territories increase ten fold, we see the workers eating in our restaurants, shopping at our grocery stores and visiting our local pubs and bars on a regular basis,” reads the letter, sent to Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“Not only have we witnessed an increase in drugs, alcohol and gang related violence in our communities, we are now faced with a disease that could kill any one of us … we are now facing the loss of some of our most sacred elders and chiefs,” it continues.
With regards to the second outbreak, Northern Health says it is working with LNG Canada and JGC Fluor, a company contracted for the project, on “planning, preparing and implementing COVID-19 measures since early spring.”
The authority says it is “ensuring enhanced control measures” are being followed so that COVID-19 is not further spread at the worksite or to “neighbouring communities,” but does not specify any specific steps to protect nearby First Nations communities.