Portage la Prairie potato processor registers 2 positive cases of COVID-19

By | August 20, 2020

Two staff at a potato processing plant in south-central Manitoba have tested positive for COVID-19.

J.R. Simplot Company confirmed it learned Monday of one worker in its Portage la Prairie plant who tested positive. 

A dozen staff who were in close contact with that worker got tested, resulting in at least one more known case, spokesperson Josh Jordan said via email from the company’s headquarters in Idaho.

As of Thursday afternoon, the company was awaiting results for the two remaining tests.

Based on the second positive, 14 employees are currently self-isolating, Jordan said, and the site where the first employee worked was deep cleaned.

Simplot has not shut down the plant, Jordan said.

Portage la Prairie, which currently has four active cases, falls within the Southern Health Region, where there are 49 active cases across the board.

The majority of current cases are concentrated around known clusters in Prairie Mountain, Winnipeg and the southern health regions.

Simplot said it has had a number of enhanced cleaning, distancing and safety measures in place since March to keep its employees safe. They’ve implemented travel restrictions, eliminated non-essential visits to the site, and employees are screened and have their temperature measured.

According to the company’s website, the Portage la Prairie plant opened in 2003 and has an annual capacity of more than 135 million kilograms of frozen french fries and formed potato products.

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