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Employee at Balzac, Alberta Amazon warehouse tests positive for COVID-19

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WATCH ABOVE: Online shopping giant Amazon is confirming an employee at its warehouse in Balzac, Alta., has tested positive for COVID-19. Cami Kepke has more on what this means for Albertans receiving packages.

An employee at Amazon’s distribution centre in Balzac, Alta., has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the company confirmed.

In an emailed statement, Amazon said it’s supporting the employee, adding they’re recovering from the illness.

READ MORE: Local companies launch online grocery store to aid Calgarians amid COVID-19 outbreak

Amazon didn’t say when the person tested positive or in what area of the facility they worked.

“We are following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site,” Timothy Carter, Amazon public relations manager, said.

According to the company, any time a COVID-19 case is confirmed at one of its facilities Amazon shares the news with everyone who works at the site, not just those who have been in close contact with the affected employee.

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Amazon said it’s taken a number of extra precautions to protect its staff and the customers they serve, including changing their meeting and training set ups, altering shift start times and break times to allow employees to social distance, and putting a stop to guests coming to the facilities.

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Masks have also been made available at all Amazon locations, and employees are being encouraged to follow health-care expert guidance on hand-washing and sanitation.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Amazon to hire 100,000 workers, raise wages amid online order surge

All employees who are either diagnosed with COVID-19, or have to go into quarantine, receive two weeks pay.

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Risk is minor

According to Dr. Craig Jenne, associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary, the risk of bringing COVID-19 into your home through online shopping packages is low.

“It’s a much safer way to do your shopping because you yourself are not interacting with people in the store,” Craig said.

“However, there is still a risk. The risk is pretty minor but it’s still a risk.”

Craig said anyone who is receiving packages, no matter where they’re from, should disinfect the outside of the package and as soon as they’re done opening it and throwing the paper away, immediately wash their hands.

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He said the things in a wrapper are likely pretty clean, but anyone wanting to take extra precautions can let their items sit for two or three days before using them.

“We know the virus only lasts about 24 hours on cardboard, and maybe two or three days on a really optimal surface like metal or plastic,” he said.