30 workers at Purolator distribution centre in Calgary test positive for COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Low risk of COVID-19 transmission from packaging: Hinshaw'
Low risk of COVID-19 transmission from packaging: Hinshaw
WATCH: Dr. Deena Hinshaw explains that there is a low risk of COVID-19 transfer from packaging, but to be cautious, remove the packaging and wash your hands immediately before touching what’s inside – May 4, 2020

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Monday an outbreak had been declared at a Purolator distribution centre in Calgary.

Thirty employees tested positive for COVID-19, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“The company is working closely with Alberta Health Services, public health, putting in place outbreak precautions, and supporting AHS to offer testing to all employees.”

In an email to Global News, Purolator’s head of communications, Dave Bauer, said the company is “working diligently with Alberta Health Services and have put in place rigorous safety practices to continue to protect our people.”

Safety precautions at the site include:

  • Thorough contact tracing
  • Deep cleaning the terminal and sanitizing vehicles regularly
  • Implementing best practices for physical distancing
  • Ensuring that anyone who feels sick in any way stays home
  • All employees have been given hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment
  • Staff and visitors must wear a mask at all times while in the facility
  • Complete health screening and temperature checks for all employees and visitors entering the facility
  • Contactless delivery methods across network

Hinshaw said there’s little evidence of the virus being transferred on surfaces through mail, but people receiving packages in the mail can protect themselves by practising good hygiene.

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“It’s possible for the virus to survive on some surfaces and, on something like cardboard, for example, it can survive for about a day. That’s in controlled environments, so that wouldn’t take into account if something was outdoors, then that may inactivate the virus sooner,” she explained.

Click to play video: 'Alberta announces 9 additional deaths, 70 new cases of COVID-19'
Alberta announces 9 additional deaths, 70 new cases of COVID-19

“The safest thing to do would be to open the package, dispose of the packaging — whether that’s the outer wrapping, cardboard, plastic packaging — and then wash hands immediately before touching any of the contents.

“There’s little evidence to suggest that there has been transfer of the virus over long distances or time from a package,” Hinshaw said. “Most of the environmental contamination and transfer has been when people are in the same space and there’s high-touch surfaces that people have been using.

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“However, to be absolutely cautious, the best thing to do would be to dispose of all that packaging, wash hands thoroughly and well, at least 20 seconds, before touching what’s inside.”

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Alberta cannot wait until there are no COVID-19 cases to reopen: Hinshaw

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