WARRNAMBOOL meat processor Midfield has opted to stay closed to protect its community, despite 300 of about 900 workers returning negative COVID-19 test results today.
The processor’s general manager Dean McKenna opted to close the plant week to test its entire workforce after a meat inspector who worked there last week tested positive to the coronavirus last week.
Midfield had not recorded any positive cases among its workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s workers have been wearing masks for the past seven weeks and the plant has been deep-cleaned daily for the past eight weeks to minimise infection risk.
Mr McKenna said 300 of close to 900 test results had been returned Tuesday and all were negative for COVID-19.
“These initial results include the staff that were in close contact with the inspector last Tuesday,” he said.
“In addition to this, we have had a four-hour meeting with the health department on site today, including a site inspection.
“They have informed us we are able to continue operating, but we have chosen not to recommence processing until we have all test results confirmed as negative,” Mr McKenna said.
“We expect to have all test results back tomorrow.”
Mr McKenna said while this was an expensive logistical nightmare it was important employers were cautious in this unknown time.
“It’s absolutely our corporate and social responsibility to keep our employees, their families and the broader community safe.
“Choosing to halt production to undertake this testing was the right decision to make,” he said.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said the state has recorded 374 new cases of coronavirus since yesterday, bringing the total number of cases to 6289. The new cases include 60 cases linked to Tottenham meat packer Somerville Retail Services, 13 cases connected to the Australian Lamb Company in Colac and 38 cases linked to the JBS Australia abattoir in Brooklyn.