Firefighters at locked down Winnipeg station weren’t exposed to coronavirus, police say

By | March 16, 2020

A Winnipeg fire-paramedic station’s temporary lock down last week due to fears workers were exposed to COVID-19 was a false alarm, police said Monday.

A Winnipeg police investigation has determined that COVID-19 “did not play any part” in the incident, Const. Rob Carver said in a news release issued Monday.

Last Thursday first responders were called to a medical scene involving a woman and a deceased man at a condominium on Philip Lee Drive. A city spokesperson said Thursday the call initially did not indicate the presence of flu-like symptoms — but that assessment changed once crews arrived.

“As crews gathered more information, it was determined they may have been at risk of coming into contact with a patient with COVID-19,” the spokesperson said in an email.

On Thursday afternoon, crews covered head-to-toe in protective clothing and masks could be seen removing a body bag from the condo building and loading it into a hearse. At the time, a city spokesperson could not provide any details about the incident, citing health privacy rules.

Crews covered head-to-toe in protective gear while responding to the medical call. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

Neighbours told CBC News no one was allowed in or out of the building for about an hour.

Later that afternoon, members of the police forensic unit and medical examiner’s team could be seen in full protective suits and face masks.

Workers at the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services No. 21 on Regent Avenue in Transcona were put into isolation as a precaution.

The city councillor for Transcona said the station reopened later on Thursday after consulting with public health authorities.

The risk of workers being exposed was “negligible to non-existent,” Coun. Shawn Nason said.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Station No. 21 in Transcona was under isolation last week. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Protocols for dealing with possible COVID-19 were implemented on Jan. 10, according to the city. Those guidelines include wearing personal protective equipment including masks and contacting hospitals ahead of time when bringing in a patient who has flu-like symptoms or has possibly had contact with the virus.

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