Workers returning to British Columbia from the Kearl Lake site in Alberta are required to self-isolate for 14 days because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and could spread it in their families or their communities. This is an order declared by B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer as of April 20, 2020.
Workers and their families should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and if any symptoms develop, however mild, self-isolate and contact their healthcare provider or 8-1-1 to get tested. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or painful swallowing, runny or stuffy nose, loss of sense of smell, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite.
The entire Kearl Lake oil sands project is being treated as an outbreak site by B.C. Anyone who has been on site since March 24 may have been exposed to COVID-19. Workers may be travelling back and forth to the site for essential work and are required to self-isolate for 14 days every time they return to B.C. Instructions on self-isolation after an exposure are available on the self-isolation page of the BCCDC website.
Kearl Lake employers may have provided different advice to employees, however, B.C. workers must follow the B.C. order to self-isolate for 14 days.
For many workers, returning home means returning to their families. Workers who have very mild symptoms may not realize they are ill and could transmit to their families. It is crucial that workers, their families and their close contacts monitor for symptoms and get tested if they develop symptoms. To find a centre where you can be assessed for testing, visit the testing page on the BCCDC website.
To date, there have been 15 laboratory-confirmed cases in B.C. among workers from the Kearl site. There is one further presumed case among a person who was at Kearl Lake and reported symptoms but was not tested. An additional eight laboratory-confirmed cases and two presumed cases have been reported among British Columbians who did not travel to Kearl Lake but had contact with a worker. Cases were reported in three regional health authorities: Interior Health, Northern Health and Vancouver Island Health.
This effort to keep people who are ill or who may become ill apart from others is an important measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities.