When it comes to detecting COVID-19 in the Quesnel health region, the lab at Barkerville Gold Mines (BGM) is the place to beat. Their testing has detected multiple cases of the virus, ensuring spread within the community and their workers is prevented.
General manager of the mine, Paul Ratte said investing in a testing facility allowed their mine and mill to continue their operations.
“[Without the lab], anytime we had someone with a cold or a sniffle, we’d be shutting down for that person and their direct contacts,” he said. “It’d be very challenging to operate without this lab.”
Ratte called the testing site at BGM a “level two biofacility,” adding the lab has detected various presumed positive COVID-19 cases in the Quesnel region.
“That’s why we have the lab — to make sure our employees and community members remain safe,” he said.
All incoming employees to BGM are tested.
“We pool samples in a group of five, and we test a larger volume that way,” Ratte said. “If the pool of five returns a positive case, we take a step back and test each one of those five samples individually.”
More than 1,000 tests have been processed at the lab.
If a case is confirmed, BGM reports their findings to Northern Health, Worksafe BC, and municipal officials in Quesnel, Barkerville and Wells. The company also gives an update on their Facebook page.
“If there is a sample that is positive, we quarantine that person and their direct contacts immediately and subsequently work in conjunction with Northern Health to develop an appropriate action plan,” Ratte said. “We have four rooms here in the Wells site, and four rooms in QR Mill that are designated just for presumed COVID-19 positive cases.”
BGM’s policies have worked. Despite detecting cases in some incoming workers, there has been no spread inside or outside of their facilities.
“That’s why we do what we do,” Ratte said.
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