COVID-19 confirmed at Maple Leaf Brandon plant

The company received word of the positive result over the long weekend

A worker at Brandon’s Maple Leaf Foods pork plant has tested positive for COVID-19, the company has confirmed.

“We were very sorry to learn this weekend that a team member at our Brandon plant has tested positive for COVID-19,” a representative from the company said in an emailed statement.

The company says the worker was last in the plant July 28, and, “passed the daily, mandatory health screen and was not exhibiting symptoms.”

The worker was wearing protective equipment, including a face covering, while at the plant, the company added.

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Maple Leaf Foods has said the case was likely linked to community transfer, citing their own review of the situation and consultation with public health officials.

The province of Manitoba has reported 29 new cases of COVID-19 since the start of August, including 10 in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, which includes Brandon.

Maple Leaf Foods says they immediately informed staff and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 832, the union representing their employees, following the positive test result.

“We hope for a speedy recovery for the Maple Leaf member,” union president Jeff Traeger said in an online statement. “This appears to be a contained event, but we will be watching this very closely.”

The Manitoba Pork Council says they have not heard of any production chain disruption as a result of the positive COVID-19 case.

Maple Leaf Foods says a deep clean of the plant occurred over the weekend, including offices and other areas off the cutting room floor, on top of the company’s established daily measures against COVID-19. The plant had previously set up daily temperature and health checks for staff prior to entering the building, as well as more strenuous cleaning procedures.

The company also pointed to additional protective equipment, staggered shifts, plexiglass separators on the production line, controlled directional traffic and social distancing introduced since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The worker in question is recovering at home, Maple Leaf Foods has said.

The union has also said that any plant staff who came in contact with the worker in question are currently self-isolating.

The union is in, “constant communication,” with Maple Leaf Foods, according to a statement on the UFCW Local 832 website.

“At this time, the union is asking everyone to stay calm and make sure we are all listening to public health advice at this time,” the statement says.

Check out our full story in next week’s Manitoba Co-operator.

About the author

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Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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