Fort McMurray says it has recorded its first case of COVID-19 and a nearby work camp is warning employees about a presumptive case on-site.
A dental office sent a notification to patients Thursday saying a staff member had tested positive for coronavirus.
The employee of Maxx Dental Group was present at the Pacific Dental Conference on March 5 to which at least seven of Alberta’s coronavirus cases and several from B.C. have been linked.
The email said “no other staff have shown symptoms to date.”
While Alberta Health Services has not confirmed the case, Don Scott, mayor of the Regional Muncipality of Wood Buffalo, said it is treating the case as such.
“We can’t, as a municipality, sit around and wait for other levels of government to take steps. We know they’re busy. We know they’re overwhelmed.”
Scott said the owner of the dental group reached out to him directly.
“He wishes that he could have done more and he’s quite upset about this happening,” Scott said.
The email said that while Alberta Health advised the clinic it was allowed to continue taking emergency patients at the clinic, “we have decided to be pro-active and all of our team (including myself and my family) are going to self-isolate themselves for the remaining six days of the two-week wait period.”
Brad McCoy, a dentist at Maxx Dental Group, acknowledged to CBC he sent the email.
The infected employee had already self-isolated after starting to feel ill, the email said.
“I cannot express how thankful I am [the employee] was responsible enough to remove [themselves] from the clinic and the community as soon as [they] felt symptoms begin,” it said.
Presumptive case at work camp
On Thursday, employees at the Borealis Lodge, a work camp about 30 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, received a a notice from Civeo, the company operating the camp, saying it had been warned about a “presumptive positive case of COVID-19” at the site.
The notice said the company is awaiting the individual’s test results, which should be available in four to six days.
“Once the individual’s test results are reported, we will provide additional details at that time,” the notice said.
In a written statement Friday, Civeo said, “the individual had been screened prior to arriving at site and at that time “no symptoms were disclosed.”
However once at the camp, the person started to show symptoms of COVID-19.
Civeo isolated the individual following the onset of symptoms. The person was then taken to a hospital in Fort McMurray.
The person was on site for 12 hours, “most of which was overnight in their quarters,” Civeo said.
Staff sanitized “all areas in which the individual was present or assumed present.”
No state of local emergency yet
Scott Davis, director of emergency management aid for Wood Buffalo, said “each industry has their own pandemic plan or continuity plan.”
Davis said he has not been directly in contact with Civeo, but a staff member is reaching out to the company today.
He added that the municipality is not declaring a state of local emergency at the moment, but it is a step he is looking into.
“I want to understand the implications so as not to negatively impact the economy,” he said.
The mayor urges community members to take care of one another.
“Make sure that your neighbours are doing OK, not just physically, but mentally,” Scott said.