Operations at the Outardes sawmill in Baie-Comeau have been suspended since Thursday after three employees tested positive for coronavirus.
It all started when a first worker from outside the region infected two others. It is impossible to know at this time if this contamination took place inside or outside the workplace.
The Côte-Nord Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) confirms, however, that one of the three cases is asymptomatic and that none of the three infected people has been hospitalized. At least fifteen other sawmill workers are at risk, as indicated by CISSS medical consultant, Dr. Richard Fachehoun.
“I have about fifteen close contacts in the workplace,” he said. In the community there are also other contacts. The investigation is ongoing. But what is important is that the population understands. COVID-19 circulates everywhere on the North Shore. ”
All workers will be screened quickly, promises Dr. Fachehoun, adding that a temporary screening center will be set up at the sawmill next week to keep up with demand.
The sawmill in “preventive quarantine until Monday”
Faced with this outbreak, the company that owns the sawmill, Resolute Forest Products made the decision to suspend the plant’s activities from Thursday until Monday. This “preventive quarantine” will make it possible to disinfect the facilities and limit contamination between employees.
“We have controlled the working environment and we hope that people respect the sanitary measures outside of work,” hopes the director of public affairs for Resolute.
The president of the union of some 120 factory workers is not surprised by this COVID-19 outbreak. “Yes, they had implemented increasingly tight measures to ensure that the virus does not enter the factory. However, it’s difficult to predict because there are a lot of asymptomatic people, ”said Bernard Plante.