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2 employees of Mountain View Poultry plant in Okotoks test positive for novel coronavirus

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A team of Alberta Health Services investigators is looking into two cases of the novel coronavirus linked to a poultry plant in Okotoks.

“All supports are in place to prevent spread at that facility,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Friday.

READ MORE: Alberta Labour offers details on probe looking into COVID-19 death linked to Cargill meat plant

The cases haven’t been classified as an outbreak, and according to president and CEO Hessel Kielstra of Vyefield — which runs the poultry plant — that’s because they’re doing everything right and following guidelines.

“We’re working very closely with Alberta Health Services and Alberta Egg,” Kielstra said, adding the situation at the plant is “under control.”

He said working with Alberta Egg is part of being agriculturally conscious and ensuring all the right steps are taken through the process.

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Both Mountain View Poultry employees who tested positive for the virus worked directly in the plant.

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Both are also in self-isolation, Kielstra said. One has been out of the plant since April 8 and the other since April 13. Kielstra said others are in self-isolation as a precaution.

READ MORE: Deena Hinshaw defends call to restrict mass gatherings through summer as Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll rises

Kielstra also said employees are temperature tested when they come to work to identify any potential symptoms.

As for when the infected employees might come back to work, Kielstra said the family-run business is working on a plan for bringing people back, which includes ensuring they’ve tested negative.

Kielstra said one of the affected staff members has already received a negative test result, so will be returning to work soon.

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Hinshaw said the health ministry is working on stronger guidelines for plants like Mountain View, in light of outbreaks at other Alberta meat facilities.

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“We are working on a guidance document that would help operators of these kinds of facilities to proactively implement even additional measures beyond what was laid out in those more general guidelines,” Hinshaw said.

READ MORE: 2 Alberta meat plants affected by COVID-19 make up 70% of Canada’s beef processing capabilities

Hinshaw said officials hope to have the guidelines available to operators by next week.

“We are working very hard to make sure that, with even one case at a meat processing plant, given the outbreaks that we’ve seen, that there’s an investigation immediately to ensure that, if there is anyone that’s deemed to be exposed, that those people are excluded and that these additional precautions, again that we’re working on to provide to all of these operators, that those are out in place as quickly as possible,” she said.