15 workers at Lilydale chicken plant in Calgary test positive for COVID-19

An outbreak at a southeast Calgary chicken processing plant had led to 15 cases of COVID-19.

Company says the plant will remain open

A total of 15 cases of COVID-19 are linked to an outbreak at the Lilydale chicken plant in Ramsay. (Google Maps)

An outbreak at a Calgary chicken processing plant has led to 15 workers testing positive for COVID-19.

Daniele Dufour, a spokesperson for Sofina Foods. Inc, which operates the Lilydale plant in Ramsay, at 2126 Hurst Road S.E., said the company had learned of three positive cases at the end of last week, and by Monday, the number had risen to 15.

She said employees are following instructions from Alberta Health Services, and are being encouraged to take a voluntary COVID-19 test. 

"Given all the measures taken to prevent risks to employees, AHS believes that the risk of spread is low and the plant remains operational," Dufour said.

"Our employees have been working hard to keep each other safe at work and we are thankful for their diligence. The diagnosed employees always wore a mask and maintained physical distancing at all times resulting in no close contacts."

Case numbers a serious concern, says union

Michael Hughes, with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, said the union is working closely with Sofina and Alberta Health Services but that the number of cases is of serious concern.

"At this time, the company and authorities have been testing employees at the facility, we have had plant inspections, and the company is co-operating and is working on areas of concern we have identified," Hughes said in an emailed statement. 

Hughes said on Monday that AHS held a meeting with workers at the facility. He said AHS is scheduling additional on-site testing and implementing additional safety procedures. 

He said the union will continue to closely monitor the situation. 

Dufour said all Sofina Foods plants have implemented temperature checks, sanitization of common areas, staggered breaks, physical distancing, mandatory face covering, plexiglass dividers on production lines, at handwashing stations and in lunch rooms.

The company operates 16 plants across Canada. 

In April, UFCW sent a letter to Sofina Foods calling for the Calgary plant's closure after a worker tested positive.

Meat plants have been hit hard by outbreaks during the pandemic. An outbreak at a Cargill facility in southern Alberta was at one point the largest outbreak linked to a single site in North America.

The outbreak at Lilydale was one of two new outbreaks in Calgary announced on Monday. The second, at the Peter Lougheed Centre in the city's northeast, is linked to six cases at the hospital's mental health and addictions unit, Alberta Health Services said. 

There are 1,172 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.


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