There are 44 positive cases of COVID-19 at the Conestoga Meats pork processing plant in Breslau, according to the acting medical officer of health for Waterloo region.
The plant voluntarily closed for one week in late April after seven workers tested positive for COVID-19 to enhance their employee protection measures.
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said Region of Waterloo Public Health and the Ministry of Labour conducted an investigation, which included an on-site inspection last week, to confirm the plant was following all recommended measures before reopening.
The plant reopened on May 4, the company confirmed in an email.
Conestoga Meats said it has installed more than 150 dividers throughout the plant and added more break areas. The company said it has also strengthened cleaning procedures and installed thermal imaging equipment for temperature screening.
The joint investigation also looked at what may have caused the outbreak, Wang added.
As a result, Wang said public health has been “aggressively” following up with cases and close contacts of the initial cases reported. Extensive testing at the plant followed, she said.
As of May 1, only 11 cases had tested positive, Wang said, noting that most of the test results came back this week.
Public health notified Conestoga Meats Thursday afternoon that 44 people who worked at the plant tested positive for COVID-19. Of those cases, 12 have been resolved.
“Conestoga employees who are working are informed of positive cases on a daily basis,” the company said in a statement.
“The total number includes cases who are self-isolating as well as those cases that are resolved and who have started to return to work.”
Transmission ‘likely’ outside plant
Wang said “it is likely” transmission occurred before the plant’s one week closure and that not all transmission occurred in the plant.
“There’s a considerable interaction among employees. Many live together and carpool together, which can increase the risk in environments outside the plant,” Wang said during a media briefing Friday.
“The cases we are now seeing are believed to be from the period prior to the closure.”
Conestoga Meats was also the subject of another Ministry of Labour investigation on March 24 for a separate complaint regarding a lack of personal protective equipment. But the ministry says that investigation is complete and no orders were issued.
Wang said public health will continue to monitor tests as they come in and assess the measures put in place at Conestoga Meats.
Wang adds the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a constant presence at the plant and “the pork products coming from Conestoga Meats are safe.”