A laboratory technical assistant at LifeLabs, handles a specimen to be tested for COVID-19 after scanning its barcode upon receipt at the company’s lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A laboratory technical assistant at LifeLabs, handles a specimen to be tested for COVID-19 after scanning its barcode upon receipt at the company’s lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. records 26 more COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths as Alberta oilsands project causes concern

There have been at least 15 cases in B.C. linked to the Kearl Lake project in northern Alberta

Two more people have died due to COVID-19 in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Saturday (May 2), as well as 26 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

As B.C. continues to report downward trends in the number of new cases being introduced into the province, Henry said a particular outbreak – at the Kearl Lake oilsands in Alberta – has proven particularly challenging for health officials.

Fifteen cases in B.C., and 12 in Alberta, have been linked to the project.

“We know there are a large number of people who work in that project in northern Alberta and we know there continues to be cases identified in Alberta and here in B.C.,” Henry said during her mid-day news conference.

In mid-March, Henry announced that anyone returning from the project to B.C. would need to self-isolate for 14 days.

But many workers continue to be going back and forth between the project and their homes, Henry noted, and those people – including their families and people they live with – still need to follow the rules set out by officials.

“We know that sometimes it is very challenging in those settings to know who has been in contact with whom,” she continued, adding that there has been transmitted cases between workers and family members.

The new cases on Saturday bring the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 2,171. Of those who have tested positive, 1,376 have recovered.

Henry said there were no new outbreaks at long-term care homes while protocols remain in place at 21 active outbreaks within care home facilities across the province. Three acute-care units also remain under outbreak protocols.

Two more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry – the latest packing plant to see an outbreak. That facility has been closed indefinitely while Superior Poultry and United Poultry also remain shuttered. Fifty-two and 35 employees have tested positive at those plants, respectively.

Broken down by region, there are now 832 cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 992 in Fraser Health, 123 in Vancouver Island Health, 175 in Interior Health and 49 in Northern Health.

More to come.

Coronavirus

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