No exposure risk at St. Joseph, Gahcho Kué case false positive: CPHO

St. Joseph's has "no risk" of exposure, said Kandola. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
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The Chief Public Health Officer is investigating a case of “miscommunication,” which led to a letter being sent to parents at École St. Joseph School, saying there was an exposure risk.

The letter said there had been contact between some teachers and the individual who initially tested positive at Gahcho Kué mine — now thought to be a false positive after the worker’s second test returned a negative result.

But in a press conference held Wednesday evening, Kandola said the contacts have tested negative for COVID-19 and there is “no risk” of exposure at St. Joseph’s.

The letter, sent out to parents earlier on Wednesday, said two YWCA staff members — who run after school programs at St. Joseph — had been in contact with a mine worker from Gahcho Kué mine who tested positive for COVID-19. 

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The letter sent to parents said those staff members were isolating and being tested, and asked parents and students to keep monitoring themselves for symptoms — advice the letter said came from Kandola. Kandola said she had not spoken directly with the school and did not issue the advice.

Kandola reiterated the fact the “index case” — in this case the Gahcho Kué mine worker — had tested negative during his second test and now appeared to represent a false positive.

She said she had not spoken directly to St Joe’s and she is investigating, with the help of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment the “miscommunication” that took place.

She also urged businesses and organizations to reach out to the CPHO’s office before issuing any advice to the public, if they suspect there has been a COVID-19 contact.

“Prior to sending out letters or advice, you need to contact me directly,” Kandola said. “I can give direction or a risk assessment and say, ‘This is not warranted.’ Please do not send direction or advice on your own, please clarify with myself.”

In the same press conference, Premier Caroline Cochrane and Minister for Health Julie Green warned about the risks of spreading rumours and stigmatizing individuals with potential COVID-19 cases on social media.

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