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JBS reports 2.2 percent of workers at Brazil plant as COVID-19 positive

07 July 2020

Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS says that 2.2 percent of workers at its Goiania beef plant have been placed on mandatory leave after testing positive for COVID-19.

JBS SA sent a statement to Reuters on 6 July outlining the outbreak. The unit in Goiania employs 900 people and remains in operation.

Monday’s statement comes in response to a question about whether the company would comply with a 2 July labour court decision ordering the company to test all workers at that facility after a reported outbreak.

In a lawsuit filed in the state of Goiás, state labour prosecutors claimed that 64 people at that JBS facility had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, compared to the 20 cases confirmed by JBS.

The labour prosecutor's office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

JBS has had a pork plant and a poultry plant banned from exporting meats to China after outbreaks of COVID-19. Both are located in Rio Grande do Sul state.

Brazil has a total of 102 meat plants authorised to export to China, according to the Agriculture Ministry, which is trying to reverse the bans.

Six Brazilian slaughterhouses have been suspended by China amid concerns over the coronavirus, including one operated by BRF SA on Saturday 4 July.

In her ruling, judge Camila Vigilato also ordered JBS to isolate all infected people and those who may have come within a 1.5 meters distance (5 feet) of a sick colleague in Goiania.

JBS said it is continuously monitoring the workforce and tracking suspected cases. The company said that it complies with federal and state health regulations, declining to comment specifically on the lawsuit.

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