COVID-19 cases at Manitoba poultry plant linked to community transmission

By | October 21, 2020

WINNIPEG — More cases of COVID-19 have been identified at a poultry plant in southern Manitoba, which health officials say has been linked to community transmission.

On Wednesday, Exceldor Co-operative confirmed there are 27 positive cases of COVID-19 within its plant in Blumenort, Man.

The plant, which was formerly known as Granny’s Poultry, has around 650 employees and for now, is still operating.

“Exceldor investigated every single one of the cases and results show that all the measures in place are effective in avoiding contamination among employees in the workplace,” Gabrielle Fallu, a spokesperson for the Quebec-based co-op said in a written statement.

As for the turkeys and chickens, the province said scientists with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have confirmed they do not spread the virus responsible for COVID-19.

CASES LINKED TO COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION OUTSIDE THE PLANT

The spokesperson said there is no evidence of transmission within the plant, though the cases appear to be caused by community transmission.

Fallu said this is leading to issues within the plant.

“Our reality is as follows: several workers live together or commute together, which may have led to this situation within our employees,” Fallu said.

“The biggest challenge is the speed at which the virus is spreading, which is why we are working day and night to stay ahead of it.”

Exceldor said it has already implemented Public Health recommendations and will implement new ones if needed.

UNION CALLS FOR PAID SICK LEAVE FOR THOSE SENT HOME

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, the union representing more than 500 workers at the plant, said it is concerned with how fast cases are rising in the plant.

“We are working with the company to ensure our member’s stress and concerns are looked after, and safety is the top priority,” Bea Bruske, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 832, told CTV News in a written statement.

“We are also glad there are options in place to cover members’ lost wages through the Blue Cross Plan, but this only covers workers who are positive, not workers who are sent home as contact cases.”

Exceldor said all employees who tested positive, and any employee who had been in direct contact with them, are now in self-isolation.

The union said this highlights the need for paid sick days.

PROVINCE REMINDS BLUMENORT TO FOLLOW FUNDAMENTALS

The province is reminding people in the Blumenort community to practice good hygiene and follow the public health fundamentals such as physical distancing, staying home when ill, and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

The union said Workplace Health and Safety, along with Public Health and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, will be inspecting the plant on Friday.

CTV’s Josh Crabb will have more details on CTV News Winnipeg at 6 p.m.

This story will be updated.

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