A second employee of Manitoba’s largest poultry plant has died after contracting COVID-19, the union that represents most workers at the Exceldor Co-Operative plant in Blumenort said Sunday, after the first case of the novel coronavirus in a worker was declared Oct. 8.

But the company has previously said the virus does not appear to have spread within the cut-and-kill facility.

“We want to offer our sincerest condolences to family, friends and fellow union members working at Exceldor. When someone loses a family member or a close friend, it’s a stark reminder about how devasting this virus can be,” United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832 president Jeff Traeger said in a statement.

The employee had previously contracted the virus and had been sent home to self-isolate, the union said, adding it learned of the death Sunday morning.
According to the union’s figures as of Friday, there were 52 positive cases among its members at the plant, including 35 active cases and 17 recovered cases.

The plant’s owner, Quebec-based Exceldor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment over email Sunday.

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But previously the company said there was no evidence of the virus spreading within the plant where 650 people work.

“We are dealing with cases of community transmission beyond our walls, therefore out of our control,” an Exceldor spokesperson said in a statement Oct. 21.

“Exceldor investigated every single one of the cases and results show that all the measures in place are effective in avoiding contamination among employees in the workplace.”

At the time, the company said several workers live together or commute together, which may have led to the situation.

Exceldor Co-operative’s Blumenort plant, formerly known as Granny’s Poultry, is the largest poultry processing plant in the province. The Quebec-based company and Granny’s Poultry merged earlier this year.

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