VICTORIA — Workers at a second poultry processing facility in British Columbia have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.
Two workers at Superior Poultry Processors Ltd. in Coquitlam have the virus, she said. The plant is the sister facility to Vancouver's United Poultry Co. Ltd., where 29 staff members have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Henry said.
She said investigations are underway at both facilities, but it appears there was movement of workers and management staff between the two facilities.
"It does look like there's likely to be others who are in the new facility as well who are also ill," Henry said at a news conference.
Officials from Superior Poultry and United Poultry were not available for comment Thursday.
Henry said she will be talking with leaders in B.C.'s meat-processing sector about required measures to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases in workplaces.
Premier John Horgan said Wednesday he was concerned some people may be reporting to work sick because they feared losing wages. He said he was planning meetings to discuss sick pay issues.
Henry announced four more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday for a total of 94 deaths in the province.
She said there were 29 new cases, bringing B.C.'s infections to 1,824. Henry said 1,029 people have recovered from the virus.
Henry said she believes B.C. residents should start to consider developing strategies when some restrictions are lifted to manage their lives during the pandemic, which could be present for months and perhaps a year. Those strategies will involve individuals, communities and the entire province, she said.
"We have to learn, how do we live with it without getting ourselves into trouble," said Henry. "We need to reach a manageable number of new cases. It's a very careful balance and it's going to be very difficult for us to find that."
She said she wanted people to consider their connections to businesses, activities and families and the important roles they will play in relaxing restrictions, while being aware COVID-19 could roar back.
"How do we, as a family, connect once we start having some leeway with restrictions?" said Henry. "We need to think in the coming weeks about widening our personal circles. But a misstep in the wrong direction puts us all at risk."
Earlier Thursday, the province said applications for the B.C. government's $1,000 emergency benefit for workers will open on May 1.
The one-time, tax-free benefit is for those whose ability to work has been affected because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government said in a news release that those who are eligible for the federal government's emergency response benefits are also able to apply for the B.C. payment.
Those asking for the payment must also have been a resident of B.C. on March 15, 2020, be at least 15 years old, have filed or agree to file a 2019 income tax return and can not be on income or disability assistance.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2020.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press