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Manitoba Hydro completes COVID-19 testing of all employees at 695-MW Keeyask station

Photo courtesy Manitoba Hydro.

Manitoba Hydro announced it has completed COVID-19 testing of the entire workforce at its 695-MW Keeyask Generating Station construction site.

The corporation made the precautionary decision last Monday to test the entire workforce after the first confirmed positive COVID-19 test of a worker at the project site on Oct. 25.

All initial and secondary testing was completed by Oct. 31, and updated test results were delivered Nov. 2. A total of 16 workers have been confirmed positive, while another 15 workers received a “not clear” result from the initial test performed by Manitoba Hydro’s contracted laboratory. Any “not clear” result from the initial test is confirmed by a second test processed by the Cadham Provincial Lab.

Contact tracing and isolation has been conducted for all workers who were confirmed positive or who received a “not clear” initial test result. All close contacts of those who received a “not clear” or confirmed positive test, as identified by public health officials, have been isolated in special dorms at the site, set aside as part of the project’s Pandemic Response plan, which was activated this past spring. Currently, 90 workers are in isolation at the project site, while another 35 workers have been transported offsite to complete their isolation in accordance with established public health guidelines. This includes seven workers who were confirmed as COVID-19 positive.

Before receiving these latest results, as a precautionary measure Manitoba Hydro made the decision Oct. 31 to institute a temporary workforce reduction at the project site. Manitoba Hydro also made the decision on Oct. 27 to close common areas at the project’s camp, including the movie theatre, gymnasium and site lounge to help minimize spread of the virus. The utility also stopped the movement of inbound workers to the site on Oct. 30, with the exception of a small number of staff required to maintain critical project operations. Those workers will continue to be tested before travelling to the site.

Keeyask, on the Nelson River, has been under construction since July 2014. It will be the province’s fourth largest generating station when complete and is expected to produce 4,400 GWh of electricity annually.

Manitoba Hydro says it is continuing to adjust its course of action as the spread of COVID-19 increases province-wide and as the levels of the provincial pandemic response plan change. The corporation continues to implement the recommendations of public health officials, including ensuring contractors notify any staff who have left the project site since Oct. 20 that they must self-monitor for 14 days from the date of their departure and get a COVID-19 test if they have not already received one.