AHS recommends U of A hospital food services staff get tested after detecting COVID-19 case among worker

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Alberta Health Services (AHS) is warning University of Alberta Hospital catering and food service staff to get tested for COVID-19 after an individual linked to the area tested positive.

A notice to food catering staff from the health authority dated April 5 that was sent to Postmedia said the catering and food services area was deemed  “under investigation” on April 2 due to the positive case. It recommended all staff who worked on or visited the catering food services between March 22 and the date the notice was posted to get tested for COVID-19. On-site asymptomatic tests will be offered to staff who have worked in that timeframe.

“This recommendation is precautionary and to further assist the outbreak team with their contact tracing and investigations,” reads the notice.

It went on to say any close contacts of a positive case will be notified and receive information regarding isolation and return-to-work dates.

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AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said the notice was posted after a single positive case was detected and the individual who tested positive did not appear to attend work while they were infectious. He said that posting the notice is standard procedure for when a case is detected at an acute care facility.

“That’s not an outbreak. We are aware of one case, likely community-acquired,” said Williamson.

There is, however, an outbreak in one unit at the hospital. Williamson said the outbreak was declared on March 3 with two patients and three staff members having tested positive. None of the cases are variants of concern.

The April 5 notice was posted the same week an outbreak involving at least one variant case was declared at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. The outbreak was declared on Monday in one unit.

Williamson told Postmedia earlier in the week that three health-care workers at the facility have tested positive. One patient who was transferred to the institute last month tested positive and has since died.

Site-wide asymptomatic COVID-19 testing began at the institute on Wednesday. All in-patients have been tested and no additional positive cases have been identified, Williamson said. The unit is currently closed to admissions.

No surgeries are expected to be delayed due to the outbreak.

Under the province’s current vaccination rollout, some health-care workers aren’t eligible until Phase 2C, which is expected to begin in April and May.

Those eligible in this group include “anyone working in patient care facilities or providing services directly to clients in the community for Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, Alberta Precision Labs, DynaLife, and students undertaking placement practicums in clinical areas.”

— With files from Anna Junker



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