London Dr. Oetker plant temporarily closed after worker tests positive for coronavirus

FILE PHOTO. JOKER/Alexander Stein/ullstein bild via Getty Images

London’s Dr. Oetker plant has been temporarily shut down after a worker at the facility recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the company confirmed Thursday.

The case is the first to be reported among the plant’s workforce, which numbers around 300 people.

The facility has been closed and will remain closed through the long weekend for deep cleaning, said Bill Walker, a company spokesperson.

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The plant, which opened in 2014 and manufacturers millions of frozen pizzas every year for the German multinational, will resume production on Tuesday.

Workers at the plant learned of the positive diagnosis on Wednesday, said Tim Deelstra, spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 175. The union represents about 240 people at the east London facility.

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“Our understanding is the worker who has tested is one of our members,” he said.

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“For privacy reasons we don’t have (more) that we can say, other than to confirm that the person is our member. We obviously wish them all the best… (and) hopefully they are recovering well.”

Deelstra said co-workers of the individual have been contacted.

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Dr. Oetker, Deelstra said, has implemented several safety measures at the facility amid the pandemic, including introducing staggered start times, end times and breaks, and installing plexiglass dividers in areas where physical distancing isn’t feasible.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work with the employer to try to put as many measures as is reasonably possible that could be put in to keep people safe throughout this, and we continue to do that,” he said.

We all know that the virus is still out, and the threat of the pandemic really hasn’t gone away for anybody — until we get some kind of vaccine, that’s going to be the case.”

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The Dr. Oetker plant, located at the eastern edge of the city, opened in 2014. It’s described by the UFCW as a “production hub for the company’s North American pizza operations.”

In 2018, the facility took on some 100 new workers and nearly doubled production after Dr. Oetker received millions from a provincial job creation fund, and closed its plant in Grand Falls, N.B., shifting manufacturing to London and to a plant in New Jersey.

News of the case comes days after a worker at the Woodstock Toyota parts plant tested positive for the virus.

The employee, who hadn’t been in the plant since July 25, was tested Monday and got a positive COVID-19 diagnosis on Tuesday, according to an internal memo. Two other workers are awaiting test results.

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