Kitchener-Waterloo

Conestoga Meats COVID-19 cases now at 75

There have now been 75 cases of COVID-19at the Conestoga Meats processing plant. Of those, 41 cases have been resolved, according to the acting medical officer of health for Waterloo region. 

The number of cases has grown, but the rate of new cases continues to decrease, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang says

Conestoga Meats closed for a week at the end of April after seven workers tested positive for COVID-19. (Submitted by Stacey Ash )

There have now been 75 cases of COVID-19at the Conestoga Meats processing plant. Of those, 41 cases have been resolved, according to the acting medical officer of health for Waterloo region.

The pork processing plant in Breslau, Ont., voluntarily closed for a week at the end of April after seven workers tested positive for COVID-19. One week ago, there were 44 positive cases reported at the plant.

Even though the number of cases has grown, the rate of positive cases at the processing plant has continued to decrease, according to Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's acting medical officer of health. Public health is working with the plant's management on the situation.

"We are monitoring closely in partnership with the ministry of labour to determine the effectiveness of the enhanced PPE and safety procedures that were put in place prior to their reopening on May 4," said Wang.

Dividers installed to separate workers

Conestoga Meats introduced measures such as daily temperature and symptom screening of workers with a nurse present and staggering break and shift times. Those were introduced last month.

The plant has also installed more than 150 dividers throughout the facility and added more break areas. 

Wang says it's too early to tell whether the new protocols are working, but the measures are "meeting or exceeding" recommendations from pubic health and the labour ministry.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour launched an investigation into the company at the end of April after receiving two complaints related to COVID-19, including concerns about physical distancing procedures. 

Conestoga Meats was also investigated by the labour ministry for another complaint on March 24 regarding a lack of personal protective equipment. The ministry says that investigation is complete and no orders were issued.

Region of Waterloo Public Health will continue to test any employees who become symptomatic, according to Wang.

She says when it comes to the positive cases, many were exposed before the reopening of the plant or at a location outside the plant.

Wang also mentioned several of the employees live together or carpooled with one another, increasing the risk of transmission.