PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — Sofina Foods Inc. confirmed Wednesday an employee at its Port Coquitlam facility has tested positive for COVID-19, making it the fourth poultry plant in the Lower Mainland affected by the virus.
The employee lives with relatives who worked at another plant where others recently tested positive for the virus, according to the plant manager.
“We have been preparing for this type of incident and quickly sprang into action to assess risks and identify any action needed in addition to the proactive measures we already have in place,” Kuljeet Chahal, plant manager at Sofina Foods in Port Coquitlam, says in a release.
He adds any employee who may have been in close contact with the one diagnosed was asked to self-isolate at home and monitor their health as a cautionary step.
The plant remains operational, having already implemented safety measures, including daily sanitation of production areas and disinfection protocols, as well as physical distancing. The plant also has Plexiglas partitions in lunchrooms.
Sofina Foods says an employee working at its Port Coquitlam facility has tested positive for #COVID19. The employee lives with relatives working at a local plant where others recently tested positive for the virus, according to the plant manager.
— Ria Renouf (@riarenouf) April 29, 2020
“Combined with the fact that the employee wore protective personal equipment at all times, we are confident that we had the right measures in place to help mitigate risks to other employees,” Chahal says.
The Port Coquitlam plant manufactures chicken products and employs more than 400 people.
Poultry plants in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Chilliwack also have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Earlier Wednesday, Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry in Chilliwack confirmed a worker has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now in isolation. The owners of the farm have been advised by the Canada Food Inspection Agency that there is no reason to recall any of their chicken or duck products.
On Tuesday, B.C. recorded 55 new COVID-19 cases, including 21 at Superior Poultry Processors in Coquitlam. That brought the total of cases there to 46.
Superior is owned by the same company as United Poultry in Vancouver, which was closed last week after dozens of employees there initially tested positive for the virus. The number of cases at the latter remains at 34.
Superior was closed last week by the Fraser Health Authority.
Despite the affected plants, Bill Vanderspek, with the B.C. Chicken Marketing Board, said poultry has not been affected.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed the importance of ensuring a safe supply of food across the country, including maintaining meat processing. He did not commit to mandating that meat processors remain open during the pandemic, but he said the federal government is working with provinces and the agricultural industry to ensure a safe supply of food.
A meat-packing plant in southern Alberta temporarily shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak affected hundreds of workers.