Ten workers at Olymel’s Red Deer pork processing plant remain at home, sick with COVID-19, out of 36 viral cases that were identified at the facility since mid-November. (Advocate file photo).

Ten workers at Olymel’s Red Deer pork processing plant remain at home, sick with COVID-19, out of 36 viral cases that were identified at the facility since mid-November. (Advocate file photo).

10 workers away at Red Deer’s Olymel with COVID-19

Olymel has tested more than half of its 1,850 Red Deer workers since November

Red Deer’s Olymel meat processing plant has identified 20 cases of COVID-19 among its employees since an outbreak began with Alberta’s second viral wave in mid-November.

Most of these people have recovered, but 10 workers are still away from the job recuperating from the virus, said Richard Vigneault, spokesman for Olymel. “We wish them a prompt recovery.”

He added an additional 19 employees are now isolating at home because they had close contact with some of the infected workers.

Contact tracing determined that most of the transmissions occurred in the community or local households and not at the plant, said Vigneault.

In total, 36 workers at Olymel have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Sick employees get paid through an insurance program, and Vigneault discussions are underway about offering those isolating at home the option of advancing some of their pay.

“We are working closely with AHS and the union to do everything that’s required,” he added. There’s growing concern about Alberta’s rapidly rising COVID-19 caseload, which is the worst in Canada, on a per capita basis.

“Considering there is a rise (of cases) in Alberta, we are being very prudent,” said Vigneault, who maintains Olymel has tested more than half of its 1,850 Red Deer workers on site on a voluntary basis since the second half of November.

“It was not compulsory. People could say ‘No,’ and we respected that.”

READ ALSO

Vigneault said the goal was to try to curb infections before they spread within the plant, or out into the community, by identifying people who did not show symptoms but could be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

According to Alberta Health Services, an outbreak was declared at Red Deer’s Olymel plant on Nov. 17.

Contact tracing was immediately initiated, and AHS Environmental Public Health Inspectors visited the site the next day to perform an inspection, and review the site’s mitigation measures and safety protocols.

AHS also initiated voluntary testing for employees, and worked with the City of Red to secure assisted self-isolation spaces in the community to support individual employees and/or their family members to appropriately isolate.

AHS considers Olymel to have “robust processes” in place to limit the spread of illness within their facility and has strict protocols regarding physical distancing, protective equipment, disinfection and other safety measures.

AHS continues to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), as well as Occupational Health & Safety (Government of Alberta), and Alberta Health, to ensure that outbreaks and incidents of COVID-19 illness in meat packing facilities are being addressed, and workers, families and communities, protected.

On-site viral testing has since wrapped up at Olymel, but workers are still being referred for off-site AHS testing if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or have had contact with people that turned out to be sick with the virus, said Vigneault.

“We are keeping up numerous sanitary measures” in the Red Deer facility, as well as Olymel’s five plants in Quebec, which have maintained a workforce of 95 per cent, he added.

Among the measures implemented at the Red Deer plant are mandatory masks and social distancing. There are also Plexiglas barriers between work stations and in the cafeteria. Vigneault said, “There’s handwashing and dozens of sanitary measures,” as well as keeping workers who are starting or ending their shifts separated.

(This version contains some corrected information).



Send your news tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

red deer city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Most Read