BREAKING: COVID-19 outbreak at B.C. poultry processing plant not cause for consumer concern, says Dr. Henry - InfoNews

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BREAKING: COVID-19 outbreak at B.C. poultry processing plant not cause for consumer concern, says Dr. Henry

Dr. Bonnie Henry is seen at a media briefing, Tuesday, April 21. 2020.
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April 21, 2020 - 3:52 PM

A COVID-19 outbreak at a Vancouver food processing plant should not be cause for consumer concern, Dr. Bonnie Henry said during today's COVID-19 provincial update.

So far, 28 employees at the United Poultry Company Ltd. chicken processing plant located at 534 East Cordova in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood have tested positive for the virus.

"There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread from meat or its packaging," Henry said, adding that other bacteria on poultry can occur and proper handling is still required.

There is no expectation that a food recall will be made from United Poultry, give that transmission through food is not likely.

This is the second Canadian food processing plant that has had a COVID-19 outbreak — the other being in High River Alberta— but Henry said that they are very different cases. The B.C. plant doesn't have the same communal living as the one in High River did. Nonetheless, inspections of facilities of this kind are going to be made to ensure social distancing is maintained. Already, she said, theses businesses have pandemic plans in place.

In the update today, April 21, Henry also said that there were 25 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the provincewide total to 1,724 cases.

The bulk of the cases were in Vancouver Coastal Health, which now has 707 confirmed cases, and Fraser Health, which has 715 new cases. There are 153 cases in Interior Health, 109 Vancouver Island Health and 40 in Northern Health.

There have been no new community outbreaks in the last 24 hours, and there was one death in the last day.

While British Columbians are making headway flattening the curve, Dr. Henry reiterated the message that every person has to keep up their defences, and maintain the social distancing measures they've been doing.

"Every decision that we make about what to do and how to lessen some of the restrictions on how to manage them and how to allow people to continue with lives while maintaining restrictions are things we have considered in great detail," Dr. Henry said.

"We have stepped up in B.C. despite the hardships that many of these public health measures have entailed. We know this has been hard on all of you and all of us, mentally, emotionally, financially and in some cases physically as well... I understand this is not easy. We can look to the future knowing we are getting through this together, it is not forever."

Dr. Henry said she realized that the new normal is something people are anxious to gain a better understanding of. 

Everything from eating out, to kids' summer sports and dental appointments were discussed and Henry said she's looking to the leaders in all of these areas to figure out how they can get back up and running in conditions that are wary of the fact that COVID-19 is still a present danger.

It will remain that way until a vaccine is created, and that's a year away at least.

In the meantime, she said, health authorities need to find the cases in our community and contain the outbreaks so they don’t spread.

"If you have a cough, the sniffles, if you are feeling unwell, stay home," she said. "That is the most important thing we need to continue to do."

As is maintaining safe distances from one another and cleaning hands and high-touch areas.

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