British Columbia

B.C. reports new COVID-19 outbreak at Coquitlam food facility, plus 5 new deaths

The outbreak is at a fruit and vegetable processing plant in Coquitlam where three workers tested positive. The company said all three had "mild" cases and don't appear to be in any danger as they self-isolate at home.

With 15 new cases announced Friday, B.C.'s total now sits at 2,407

B.C. health officials provided a COVID-19 case update Friday afternoon. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

A new COVID-19 outbreak has been detected at a B.C. food facility, officials said Friday afternoon.

The outbreak is at the Oppenheimer Group, a fruit and vegetable processing plant in Coquitlam. According to the statement, there are two cases connected to the facility. However, a statement from the company received by CBC News later Friday evening said there were three cases.

"The public health investigation is ongoing, active contact tracing is underway and the plant remains open at this time," the statement from Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry read.

B.C. reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and five new deaths: four people in the Fraser Health region and one in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Across the province, 51 people with COVID-19 are in hospital, 12 of them in intensive care.

A new acute-care outbreak was also reported Friday, at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. The province said there are 15 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and five acute-care units in B.C. with active cases.

"The new outbreaks demonstrate that there continues to be risk of COVID-19 in our communities," the statement read.

So far, 2,407 British Columbians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 140 have died.

Of the people who have tested positive, 1,908 have recovered, the province said. There are 359 active cases in B.C.

'It was a shock'

Oppenheimer, in its statement, explained the three employees who tested positive worked in the warehouse. The facility handles bulk produce and bundles it into clamshells and other packaging.

The first case was detected May 12 and the other two on May 14 and 15. Two of the workers were family and the third carpooled with them.

The Coquitlam facility of the Oppenheimer Group (also branded as Oppy), seen in 2019. Three workers in the fruit and vegetable company's warehouse are self-isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19. Five other workers who have not tested positive, but worked closely with them, are also self-isolating. (Google Streetview)

Five workers who were in close proximity to the three who tested positive are at home self-isolating as a precaution but have not tested positive themselves.

Executive vice-president Doug Grant said the company had already made changes to prevent coronavirus spread in previous weeks but still the virus managed to be introduced to the facility

"It was a shock to us," Grant said. "We're very concerned for the health and welfare of our staff."

The company said the warehouse has been professionally sterilized and has received the all-clear from Fraser Health to keep operating.

Grant said further preventative measures will be put into place.

Stay home

In a follow-up statement, Dix reiterated advice he and others have offered several times this week: don't travel around the province unnecessarily during the long weekend.

"Staying in your local community this long weekend means no leisure road trips to cabins or to go boating — especially across our borders," Dix said in his statement. 

"Instead, I encourage everyone to reach out safely to local friends or families in your neighbourhood and to connect virtually with close ones living in other communities."

Henry and Dix offered a reminder that provincial parks are now open for day use and encouraged people to visit them during the long weekend.

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