Nova testing its construction employees for COVID-19 before returning to work

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Lambton’s MOH says its causing public health to do double the work

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health is calling on local industries offerng COVID-19 testing to employees to make sure the labs they are using for the test are certified to do the job.

Nova Chemical is one of the local companies testing employees as they return to work. Company spokesperson Julia Iacovella says the final COVID-19 tests are being completed on 2,000 workers today.

“A return-to-work COVID-19 testing program began on Jan. 3 and will run through the seventh. About 2,000 laboratory-analyzed PCR tests will be administered by registered nurses over the four-day period. Workers who test positive are being referred to Lambton Public Health for additional testing,” she said in a statement to The Independent.

Iacovella says the company – which had two COVID-19 outbreaks before Christmas on the construction sites on Rokeby Line and the Nova Cracker unit – has been working with the local unions, contractors and the Sarnia Construction Association on the project. Public health, according to Iacovella has also been involved.

“In addition to our strict protocols aligned with guidance from public health authorities, the screening tests are an effective approach to mitigate the risk of workplace transmission and maintain the health of our workers on site.”

But Dr. Sudit Ranade voiced concerns about private testing like this during a news conference Thursday. He called it cumbersome because some companies are using private labs which are not accredited to do the COVID-19 work.

“When labs that are accredited do their do their results … as soon as they’re positive, they have a method and mechanism to upload them into our system, and then we get that result right away. This is a more cumbersome process because the unaccredited labs are not hooked into the system.

“The other piece about not having those labs accredited is that you can’t rely on those results as much and so we actually have to then go and retest all of those people.

“It’s a double burden in terms of public health work on that front, we get the results later and we also have to re verify them with the second test. So, if you’re going to do it, it’s better off to be done in an accredited lab to avoid all those issues.”