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Colac meat worker returns positive coronavirus test

Kyra Gillespie

@kyra_gillespie20 Jul 2020

A worker at a large meat facility in Colac, Victoria, has tested positive to coronavirus, prompting fears that it could have spread to hundreds of co-workers and the broader community.

The Colac resident received the positive test on Friday morning and has been confirmed as a meat inspecting contractor at Australian Lamb Colac.

The person attended work Thursday last week and self-isolated after undergoing the coronavirus test on Monday.

It marks the second positive test recorded in Colac since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polwarth Liberal MP Richard Riordan said the facility, which employs up to 700 people, was a "ticking time bomb".

"This just looks like Cedar Meats all over again, has the government learnt nothing on how to deal with a large workplace situation?" he said.

"The workplace, employee and workers throughout Colac, potentially many workplaces, have been affected.

"When I interviewed the Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton back in May they said they were going to do this type of contract tracing of large workplaces better.

"Here we are, months later, and the government still is not working quick enough."

The case follows the shutdown of Victoria's biggest abattoir, JBS' Brooklyn, after workers there tested positive to coronavirus.

JBS Head of Corporate Affairs John Berry said the plant temporarily suspended operations on July 12, undertaking a thorough deep clean of the facility and conducting continuous testing of the workforce at our own cost.

"Since the start of the pandemic in March, we've had a comprehensive COVID Safety program at all of our facilities - including the regular testing of all employees with state-of-the-art thermal temperature technology," Mr Berry said.

The Department of Health and Human Services has recorded 29 positive cases at the Brooklyn facility, from a workforce of around 1200.

Mr Riordan said it "wasn't good enough" the patient waited a week to get results back and he wanted to see swift testing of the hundreds of workers at Australian Lamb.

"A week waiting is a week too long, these are essential services and industries," Mr Riordan said.

"We need to know that the local health authorities will be getting all the support they need to get on top of this.

"All sorts of people move in and out of this facility."

Contact tracing has commenced at the site.

Australian Lamb was contacted for comment.

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