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JBS ordered to re-close Brazil plant as more coronavirus cases emerge

An appeals court in Rio Grande do Sul state ruled that a JBS plant must close, overturning a lower labour court decision that permitted its re-opening.

29 June 2020, at 8:51am

According to Reuters, Brazil’s labour prosecutor issued a statement outlining their decision.

The JBS poultry plant in Passo Fundo had been authorised to reopen on 21 May, after being closed on 24 April to stem the spread of a coronavirus outbreak among plant workers.

JBS has not commented on the new ruling.

The plant employs more than 2,600 people and according to JBS, has the capacity to process 320,000 birds a day.

Amid a cluster of outbreaks at Brazilian meatpacking plants, earlier last week a different court ruled that JBS must test all workers for COVID-19 at its Três Passos pork plant, also in Rio Grande do Sul.

On 25 June, the state labour prosecutors reported that the 32 meatpacking plants had confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rio Grande do Sul.

As of 23 June, almost 5,000 workers at meat plants had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Rio Grande do Sul, or 25.14 percent of the state's total 19,710 cases, the labour prosecutors said.

At Três Passos, which remains open, Reuters reports that a 48-year-old JBS employee died from COVID-19 complications.

Citing local health authorities, the labour prosecutors also said 117 JBS workers, out of 1,017 at Três Passos, had tested positive for the virus before JBS's own testing began.

JBS said in a statement to Reuters that it regretted the death of its worker, who had been employed by the company for 27 years. The company said he was off duty since 8 June and died 15 days later.

JBS has been offering assistance to his family.

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