Cargill has announced that it will temporarily close its Guelph, Ontario, beef processing plant because of an outbreak of COVID-19 illnesses among its plant employees.

As of December 17 at 2:00 p.m., 82 individuals at the Dunlop facility had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. Additionally, 129 individuals (both cases and close contacts) are self-isolating as a precaution. Because of the scope of the outbreak there is a small but serious risk of transmission to the general community. WDG Public Health continues to follow up with cases and trace their contacts.

“All outbreaks are serious,” said Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum, Associate Medical Officer of Health. “However, when we see an outbreak of this size, we must use all of the tools available to us to contain the outbreak and ensure the community at large is protected.”

“I want to thank Cargill for their complete participation in containing this outbreak,” said Dr. Tenenbaum. “As cases rise in our region, we will be at more risk for outbreaks. That’s why we must do all we can to keep cases low and respond quickly to any outbreaks.”

Reuters reports that Cargill does not have a set date for reopening and will finish processing the meat currently in the facility to prevent food waste.

Sources: Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Reuters