A JBS SA poultry plant in southern Brazil was struck by an outbreak of COVID-19, based on labor prosecutors, marking the first large-scale infection at a Brazilian meat unit.
The respiratory illness brought on by the novel coronavirus affected 20 workers at the meat-processing unit in the city of Passo Fundo, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, based on a representative from the state’s labor prosecutor’s office Friday.
The unit was shut Friday afternoon as part of an ongoing probe by the prosecutors. It follows several other outbreaks at meat-processing plants in the U.S. in the latest weeks, including at some JBS-owned plants.
In a statement responding to queries concerning the Passo Fundo plant, JBS stated it follows guidelines from local health authorities and keeps tough controls at its processing units, distribution centers, and offices to keep away from contamination from the novel coronavirus.
It declined to touch upon the circumstances of COVID-19 affecting its staff and stated nothing particularly concerning the outbreak on the Passo Fundo unit, which employs 2,600 workers.
The labor prosecutor’s office confirmed that it found at the very least seven cases when its probe started just a few days ago and stated the count has since risen to 20.
Brazilian news website UOL cited the division as saying that some 78 JBS staff had been removed from work for showing flu symptoms.