Brandon trucking firm site of COVID-19 cluster

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Support this work and subscribe today A small cluster of novel coronavirus cases under investigation by provincial health officials is connected to the Brandon terminal of a trucking business headquartered in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Free Press has confirmed the long haul trucking terminal owned by Paul's Hauling Ltd., at 1515 Richmond Avenue E. in Brandon, is the site of the outbreak announced by provincial chief public health officer Dr.

Brent Roussin on Tuesday. In an email dated May 1, which was obtained by the Brandon Sun, company vice-president Rod Corbett updates employees on the situation at the Brandon shop "in an effort to be transparent." "We now have three confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 within our (Oak Point Service) Brandon staff.

A weekend shift employee finished his shift on Monday April 20, then on Wednesday April 22, he started feeling ill," the memo says.

BRANDON SUN Paul's Hauling in Brandon.

The cluster -- a grouping of COVID-19 cases with a transmission chain that stems from a single case -- had spawned seven confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, when Roussin reported the sixth and seventh cases. Roussin said that a public health investigation had so far determined that members of the public are not at risk.

"A thorough contact investigation is underway and any risk to the public will be articulated in a timely fashion," Roussin said. "Most of the contact investigation has already been completed. There's been a lot of testing done. "Still with new cases, obviously now there's some more contact investigations to begin, but there are not a lot of contacts that are pending so far."

Roussin said new cases connected to the cluster were first reported at the end of April and any employees who have tested positive and their close contacts are self-isolating. Detailed contact tracing is ongoing to identify any additional exposures and to contain further spread.

"Most of the contact investigation has already been completed. There's been a lot of testing done." -- Dr.

Brent Roussin

Roussin refused to disclose the name of the company associated with the outbreak or describe what industry the company belonged to when asked Wednesday. He had earlier confirmed the business was not a health-care facility, food processing plant or part of the food industry. Such details would only be shared if a public health investigation concluded a risk to the public did exist, Roussin said, and the company is working co-operatively with public health officials to put sanitation protocols in place.

"I'm not a doctor. We've satisfied every public health official. They've come out.

We've been working with them extensively," Corbett told the Sun Wednesday afternoon. "There's been nothing hidden. We've been open to everything way before we began this whole thing," he said. "Our pandemic plan was approved by... the public health officials."

The family member of an employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said that news of the local outbreak should serve as a wake-up call for the general public. They said they're worried for the health of not only the family member, but also the public at large. "People are careless because they say it's not here," they said. "I can confirm -- it's here."

Paul's Hauling was founded in 1957 by the late Paul Albrechtsen, a philanthropist and business owner who had donated millions to charitable health and wellness organizations in Winnipeg. The company's profile says it is one of the largest bulk commodities and goods transporters in Canada with 250 tractors and 600 trailers under the Paul's Hauling brand. Hauling fuel and petroleum products constitutes a large portion of its business.

The company has terminals in Esterhazy, Sask., and Thunder Bay, Ont. and has transportation lines running across western Canada, from northwest Ontario to British Columbia and the Yukon. The company also drives to 14 states in the northwest United States. -- with files from the Brandon Sun

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Brandon trucking firm site of COVID-19 cluster

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

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