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Syncrude confirms two COVID-19 cases linked to company

Last Updated Apr 23, 2020 at 8:44 pm MDT

A dump truck works near the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near the city of Fort McMurray, Alta., on June 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Syncrude confirmed there are two cases of COVID-19 linked with their organization.

Spokesperson Will Gibson said the company’s thoughts are with them and their families.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with these workers and their families as they deal with this illness. We wish both of them a speedy recovery.”

Gibson said both cases are unrelated.

An employee with Syncrude first developed symptoms during his downtime away from the site.

Gibson said the employee timely informed Syncrude following all proper protocols as directed from Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Syncrude’s Health and Wellness team.

The employee did not report to the site to work.

“The employee self-isolated and underwent testing to confirm the virus. While on days off, the worker was in contact with an individual outside of Syncrude who was exhibiting symptoms and is a presumptive case of COVID-19.”

AHS affirmed to Syncrude this case did not pose a risk to the site or its workers.

On April 22, AHS informed the company of a second unrelated case of a contract worker who tested positive for COVID-19.

Gibson said Syncrude immediately started tracing potential close contacts as the contractor last reported late last week.

“Syncrude staff, including our Chief Medical Officer, are working closely with AHS to conduct the detailed tracing related to this confirmed case and to ensure those potentially affected take the immediate and required steps to protect others from the virus.”

He said Syncrude would require any or all close contacts to enter self-isolation and follow additional guidance from AHS.

Gibson added Syncrude has dedicated teams in place since the early start of the outbreak.

Syncrude previously announced they have an essential workforce with non-essential staff working remotely.

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“With the continued spread of COVID-19 around the world, we have prepared for a case among our Syncrude workforce. Our organization takes emergency preparedness seriously [and] we had [planned] well in place to address potential impacts from previous pandemics, such as H1N1 and SARS.”

Gibson said that only critical work proceeds at Syncrude with thousands of fewer people than prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[We] expect our workers to follow recommended and mandated government measures such as keeping people at physical distances in the workplace and on commuter buses. We have also implemented temperature monitoring and enhanced workplace hygiene and cleaning.”

Gibson also said guidelines Syncrude communicates to employees and contractors are the following:

  • Practising good hygiene, including handwashing
  • Staying home when sick
  • Increased cleaning or disinfecting high traffic or frequently touched surfaces


If anyone exhibits symptoms at work, Gibson said they would enter immediate isolation.

Deep cleaning of their workspace would also occur.

“Syncrude has a dedicated Health and Wellness team led by a very experienced physician and staffed by occupational health nurses. We will continue to make decisions that ensure the health and safety of the people who work at our sites every day as that’s our top priority.”

He added Syncrude will continue to follow guidance from AHS.