Alberta Brazilian COVID-19 variant outbreaks linked to workplaces: top doctor

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EDMONTON — Alberta's top doctor says an outbreak of the COVID-19 variant first found in Brazil appears to be linked to a large employer with multiple sites across Western Canada.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw says on Twitter that it's believed it started with a traveller returning to Alberta from out of province.

She says the spread has been confined to three work sites in the central and north zones in which employees travelled between locations.

Some 26 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to those sites and to household contacts.

Hinshaw says so far three of those infections are confirmed to be the more dangerous Brazilian variant, but she adds that's likely to increase as more results come in.

She says there has also been an outbreak of five cases — one linked to the Brazilian variant — at a separate Calgary zone workplace.

Hinshaw on Saturday said there had been a "significant" Brazilian variant outbreak, but gave no further details until Monday.

"These investigations are complex and it's important that we ensure information is accurate and that anyone at risk is directly contacted before sharing details," she said.

"We also must balance the public desire for info with protecting patient confidentiality."

Alberta health officials identified 887 new cases of COVID-19, 432 of them involving variants. Nearly 40 per cent of active cases in the province are now variants.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press