Steps being taken as COVID-19 outbreak at Guelph, Ont., meat packaging plant hits 34 cases
GUELPH -- As of Saturday, there are 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in connection to an outbreak at a Guelph meat packaging plant.
UFCW Local, the union representing workers at Cargill, says two employees first tested positive for the virus last week.
"Then that triggered the process through public health to start contact tracing," said spokesperson Tim Deelstra. "Ultimately that led to just over 100 people being isolated from one department at the plant."
The union says they're working with the company and public health to help control and slow the spread. This includes implementing infection prevention and control inspection as well as testing all staff in the affected area of the plant.
"There is one department at the plant that we believe this has been limited to," said Deelstra. "Production in that department has been slowed in order to keep the remaining employees as spaced out as possible while the enhanced cleaning happens."
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says that the risk to the public is low, but there is a risk of indirect spread throughout the community.
"Even if members of the public aren't themselves directly at risk, because workers are at risk, they may go home and their families may be at risk," said Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum. "Of course those chains of transmission can have some downstream consequences and that is quite concerning to us."
This is the second outbreak at Cargill since the start of the pandemic. The first one happened in the spring, but the union says that outbreak was on a much smaller scale.
The rising case count at the meat packaging plant comes as the region moves into the red 'control' zone for COVID-19 protocols on Monday.
"The idea is to try and reduce people's social contact outside of their household," said Tenenbaum. "It does mean that businesses can accommodate fewer customers."
Public health is reminding residents to be vigilant, practice physical distancing, and wear a face mask.