Calgary

Second COVID-19 outbreak at Harmony Beef this year grows to 74 cases

A meat processing plant located north of Calgary is now connected to 74 cases of COVID-19, Alberta Health confirmed Thursday.

Eight cases are listed as recovered and 66 are listed as active

Harmony Beef, located just north of Calgary, is connected to 74 cases of COVID-19, eight of which have recovered. (CBC News)

A meat-processing plant located north of Calgary is now connected to 74 cases of COVID-19, Alberta Health has confirmed.

As of Thursday, 66 cases are active at Harmony Beef and eight are recovered. That's nearly double the numbers from last Friday, when 36 cases were listed as active and two recovered.

The outbreak at Harmony Beef is the second time the meat plant has seen a flare-up of COVID-19 this year.

Speaking Thursday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said she recognized that some facilities currently experiencing outbreaks had previously contained the disease.

"So we are looking closely to see what the factors are this time that's causing more transmission in places where they were previously successfully contained," she said.

Hinshaw partially attributed the newest outbreaks to workers coming into the facility while experiencing symptoms.

"Factors that seem to be coming to the surface are fear of losing income while sick," Hinshaw said. 

"So I think we all collectively need to think about, employers, or whether we're able to advocate for appropriate approaches to the CERB benefit so that people can stay home when they're sick and not be disadvantaged financially for doing that."

  • WATCH | Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, discusses what she thinks may have led to additional outbreaks in the meat processing industry.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw says a fear of losing income when sick could be playing into new outbreaks at a handful of meat processing plants. 0:52

CBC News has reached out to representatives of Harmony Beef for comment.

The meat processing industry in Alberta has been hit hard by outbreaks of COVID-19. At one point, the Cargill plant near High River saw nearly half of its 2,000 employees test positive for the virus. 

Three deaths were also linked to the facility:

  • Benito Quesada, 51, the union shop steward.
  • Hiep Bui, a 67-year-old woman who had worked at the plant for 23 years.
  • Armando Sallegue, an employee's 71-year-old father, who was visiting from the Philippines.

Another Cargill meat-processing plant in Calgary, Case Ready Meats, had an outbreak declared in August. According to Alberta Health, there is one active case at the facility with six recovered.

A third outbreak, at the Sofina Foods/Lilydale poultry processing plant in Calgary, remains at 27 cases, Alberta Health said. Twelve of those cases are active, while 15 are recovered.

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