Alberta health officials investigating 2 workplace outbreaks of P1 coronavirus variant


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Alberta public health officials are investigating two workplace outbreaks of the P1 variant of the coronavirus first detected in Brazil, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday.

One outbreak involves three work sites in the North and Central zones, while a separate one involves a workplace in the Calgary Zone.

Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said one outbreak has been linked to three confirmed cases of the P1 variant, while the other outbreak has one confirmed case of the same variant.

The first outbreak “appears linked to a large employer with multiple sites across Western Canada,” Hinshaw said in a lengthy post on Twitter.

“The outbreak started with a traveller returning to Alberta from out of province. To date, the spread has been confined to three work sites in Central and North Zone, where employees travelled between sites.”

Officials have identified 26 COVID-19 cases among employees at those three sites and their household contacts, Hinshaw said.

“So far, only three are confirmed P1 cases, but this will likely increase as more results come in.”

PTW Energy Services confirmed in a statement that three employees had tested positive for the P1 variant at its Drayton Valley, Edson and Hinton offices. 

The Calgary-based company, which provides fabrication, construction and maintenance services, said that on becoming aware of the outbreak, it was ensuring employees with symptoms get tested, isolate and follow Alberta Health Services (AHS) protocols. A third party has been hired for a comprehensive review, it said in the statement.

The second, unrelated P1 outbreak has been reported at a workplace in Calgary Zone, Hinshaw said.

Five cases are currently linked to that outbreak, including one confirmed case of the P1 variant.

AHS working with companies

Alberta Health Services has been working with both companies to ensure those at risk of exposure are offered testing and help with quarantines, Hinshaw said.

“This includes employees at other sites who may have been exposed. Anyone at risk is being directly contacted and supported.”

The province reported another 887 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, including 432 linked to more contagious variants of concern.

Those variants now account for 39.2 per cent of active cases in the province.

Alberta Health updated its online data on Monday afternoon, tallying up case numbers confirmed from Thursday to Sunday. They include:

  • April 1: 1,081 new cases
  • April 2: 1,071 new cases
  • April 3: 948 new cases
  • April 4: 887 new cases

Variant cases reported over the same four-day period were:

  • April 1: 327 cases
  • April 2: 552 cases
  • April 3: 622 cases
  • April 4: 432 cases

As of Sunday, 312 patients were being treated for COVID-19 in Alberta hospitals, including 76 in intensive care units.

Hinshaw said four more deaths have been reported to Alberta Health since April 1.

More than 9,102 tests were completed Sunday. The positivity rate was 9.9 per cent.

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Hinshaw said she is concerned about rising cases, including variants, in the province.

“Please keep making safe choices and limit in-person interactions whenever possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 provincewide.”

She thanked the public for their patience.

“These investigations are complex, and it’s important that we ensure information is accurate and that anyone at risk is directly contacted before sharing details. We also must balance the public desire for info with protecting patient confidentiality.”

The cabinet’s emergency management committee is now scheduled to meet on Tuesday morning. 



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