The City of Brooks, east of Calgary, is dealing with the novel coronavirus at its nearby meat-processing plant.
“There is more than one case at the meat packing plant,” Mayor Barry Morishita said.
JBS Food Canada confirmed to Global News it has had team members test positive in some of its facilities, but it would not specify how many.
Company officials went on to say: “The JBS Brooks beef production facility is open and operating.”
“As a food company, we recognize and embrace the important role we play in making sure people have access to safe, quality food.”
The company added it is working hard to provide a safe working environment for its team members and has implemented several preventative measures.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday AHS is looking into the cases in the community.
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“We have been informed about several cases in Brooks,” Hinshaw said.
“There may be a linkage to that particular plant. Local public health is doing an active investigation and working to determine that linkage and what kinds of processes may be required.”
JBS said it is not aware of any concerns about community spread or the plant remaining open.
The province announced Thursday that an “intergovernmental business resumption protocol” for provincially or federally licensed food processing facilities in Alberta has been established.
The plan was created to keep workers safe while keeping Albertans fed during the pandemic, the agriculture minister said.
Morishita said he is not calling for a closure of the plant.
“We need food production to continue on. Not just in Alberta, but across the country,” Morishita said. “We believe that the measures that are taken in the plant are adequate to prevent the spread.”
Global News has also learned a staff member at an assisted care centre for seniors — AgeCare Sunrise Gardens in Brooks — has also tested positive.
AgeCare officials said the worker will not return to work until cleared by public health and “no residents have positive tests.”
Morishita said it’s always concerning when a seniors’ facility is affected.
“We obviously know that that’s the most vulnerable of our population,” he added. “We’re very, very concerned, but at this point we’re satisfied that all the proper steps have been taken.”
Morishita said it’s important to now focus the community’s efforts on following pandemic protocols.
“We know that community spread is a problem and we are very concerned about it. We’re imploring all of our residents to follow the rules.”
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