A COVID-19 outbreak at Conestoga Meat Packers in Breslau has largely been resolved, but the company is still dealing with some cases.
The outbreak, cleared by public health officials on December 29, is the second, the company having experienced one that prompted a shutdown in April.
Not directly identified on the Region of Waterloo’s online coronavirus dashboard – labelled “food processing 1” instead – the company has moved passed the outbreak stage, Dr. Ryan Van Meer, the associate medical officer of health for the region, said in a statement.
“A majority of the cases associated with food processing 1 are now resolved. Of the 88 cases reported to date, 77 cases are now resolved. Due to significant social and household connections among workers, 34 have been assessed to be community-acquired (e.g. through social interactions and household contact amongst workers outside the workplace). Fifty-four of the 88 cases reported to date have an acquisition source that is unknown, and some could have been the workplace,” he said.
“We are working closely with the workplace, which has strong workplace infection and prevention control measures in place. The workplace has also made significant efforts to help decrease spread amongst employees outside of the workplace. Enhanced testing is taking place to monitor the effectiveness of measures in the workplace setting. Public Health will continue to provide close support to the workplace.
The situation developed months after an earlier outbreak was declared for the abattoir nearing the end of last April. That outbreak saw more than 90 individuals test positive for the virus. During the first outbreak, medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang explained many of the transmissions occurred outside of the plant due to activities such as carpooling.
The recent incidence is one of 40 active outbreaks in the region. Other locations include long term care and retirement homes, congregate settings, and at a host of other businesses.
Workplace outbreaks have been more common, Wang noted in a briefing last week prior to the recent stay-at-home order from the province.
“Workplace outbreaks have increased significantly during the second wave, accounting for approximately 85% of all outbreaks declared in November and December 2020. Our investigations have observed that public health measures are generally well practiced during interactions between employees and members of the public. But lapses are observed between employees and to a lesser extent, between patrons, such as employees carpooling together, continuing to come to work while symptomatic, not maintaining physical distancing, and masking and employ only areas such as in lunch rooms, and break rooms and meeting rooms,” she said.