CPHO tells NWT residents returning from Kearl Lake oilsands site to self-isolate

An aerial photo of Imperial Oil's Kearl Lake oilsands site from 2012. (Photo by Jason Woodhead, retrieved on Flickr)

Any NWT residents that were at the Kearl Lake oilsands site in Alberta in the past month may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola is ordering any workers that returned to the NWT from the site, including sub-contractors, must now self-isolate for 14 days.

“This call for self-identification is in response to the fact that the Kearl Lake outbreak investigation has taken some time, and reliable lists of sub-contractors have not been produced yet,” Mike Westwick, Health and Social Services COVID-19 communications manager, told CKLB. “We are simply covering our bases. There are no outstanding contacts in the NWT we know of right now, and anyone returning since this date would have almost certainly been self-isolated upon their return regardless due to our boundary and self-isolation controls.”

While in self-isolation, these residents must monitor themselves for possible COVID-19 symptoms. The territorial government has created an updated list of symptoms here.

If you are feeling unwell, you can use the self-assessment tool or call 8-1-1 to see if you need to be tested. If you develop severe shortness of breath, then call 9-1-1 immediately.

The Kearl Lake site is owned by Imperial Oil and is in the northern part of the Athabasca oilpatch, about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

The first reported cases of COVID-19 at the site came in mid-April.

Updated on Friday, May 1 at 5:30 p.m. to reflect the comments from Mike Westwick.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.