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COVID-19 outbreak declared at Harmony meat plant, north of Calgary

Last Updated May 6, 2020 at 8:35 am MST

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Another meat plant in Alberta has been hit with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Alberta Health has declared an outbreak at the Harmony Beef meatpacking plant in Balzac, just north of Calgary.

A spokesperson with Alberta Health said about 34 cases have been connected to the facility.

“AHS has provided both on and offsite onsite assistance and support to CFIA and Harmony Beef regarding social distancing, disinfection and physical separation. AHS and CFIA continue to work closely together along with Harmony Beef prevent the spread of COVID.”

According to a spokesperson at Harmony Beef, a total of 25 employees tested positive for COVID19 since March 18. One employee testing positive in the first five days of May.

In a statement, Harmony Beef said “we have provided new PPE surgical masks to everyone every day, dramatically increased sanitizing efforts, put in plexiglass dividers where possible and set up as much social distancing as possible.”

However, the president of the Agriculture Union representing workers at the plant said that doesn’t go far enough.

“Right now, the provincial health authorities and the plants themselves are making the decisions whether to keep the plants open or close,” said Fabian Murphy.

“Some are shutting down and some are not. We are asking the federal government to step in and take a greater role when it comes to implementing standard measures across the country during the outbreak.”

Murphy added if the plant can’t prove it can operate safely, then the best thing to do is to temporarily shut it down.

This is the third plant to be impacted by the novel coronavirus. Both the Cargill plant, north of High River, and JBS Canada in Brooks have been dealing with outbreaks.

An online petition has been set up calling for the closure of the JBS plant. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 18,000 people have signed it.