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Staff test positive

Two local fishing factories have reported their first positive Covid-19 cases.

Sea Harvest and Lucky Star have both confirmed that one of their staff members tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week.

Together these factories employ about 3 000 people and are part of the food security industry which was classified as an essential service and were operational throughout the national lockdown which came into effect at midnight on 27 March.

The two employees did not need to be hospitalised and are currently in quarantine.

Anthea Abraham, Corporate Affairs Manager at Sea Harvest, said: “An employee in our Fresh Fish Processing facility was screened by the on-site clinic and subsequently tested by the contracted doctor. The employee was confirmed positive less than 48 hours after showing symptoms and has been placed in isolation for 14 days.”

She said the facility was decontaminated on the day of the test result on Sunday 24 May.

The St Helena Bay-based Lucky Star Cannery was deep-cleaned over the weekend after the positive case was confirmed on Friday 22 May.

Bulelwa Nombutuma, Communications Manager for the Oceana Group says all affected workspaces were also decontaminated. “In addition, all other areas on the plant, including canteens, change rooms, the fishmeal plant and the jetty were decontaminated.”

Employees who had contact with the two workers have been identified and will be closely screened and monitored daily. Both factories have since resumed their operations after additional health and safety protocols were put in place.

Terence Brown, Executive Director and Head of the Covid-19 Task Team at Sea Harvest says: “We have been prepared that this will be occurring more and more as the infection spreads. The company is following its strict protocols and we plan to continue to operate under this ‘new normal’ to ensure food security and continuity of our business.”

He believes their meticulous planning and daily communication has prevented the virus from entering their facilities a lot sooner.

“We now need to delay the rate of infection as best we can from this point onwards,” Brown added.

West Coast a ‘hotspot’

During his address on Sunday 24 May President Cyril Ramaphosa identified the West Coast as one of the Covid-19 hotspots in the country.

A hotspot is defined as an area that has more than five infected people per every 100 000 people or where new infections are increasing at an ever faster pace.

The total confirmed cases in the Western Cape as on Monday 26 May was 15 756 of which 556 are in hospital with 7844 recoveries, 128 558 tests were conducted.

Reacting to remarks by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Premier Alan Winde said remaining on alert Level 4 in identified hotspots such as the West Coast District, will further exacerbate the economic and humanitarian disaster that has resulted from the lockdown.

“Already, we anticipate the province will see over 200 000 job losses as a result of the lockdown, and any further delays in easing the levels will result in more people losing their jobs and an even greater need for humanitarian relief.”

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