More COVID cases among Manitoba meat plant staff, but no closure planned

BRANDON, Man. — Maple Leaf Foods says 23 employees at its meat processing plant in Brandon, Man. have tested positive for COVID-19.

But neither the company nor Manitoba public health officials believe transmission is happening within the workplace.

Manitoba chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says there is a cluster of 64 cases in Brandon, west of Winnipeg, and that there is evidence of some community transmission.

He says imposing stricter regional restrictions is on the table, but there’s nothing specific in the works right now.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, which represents 2,000 Maple Leaf workers in Brandon, has called for the plant to be shut down until the spread is under control.

Maple Leaf vice-president Janet Riley says the workplace is safe and there’s no reason to suspend operations.

“Simply put, based on all the evidence, COVID-19 is not being spread at our plant,” she said in an emailed statement.

“It is important to note that 144 members of our Brandon plant team have tested negative for COVID-19.”

Manitoba reported 16 new cases on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 558.

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