Another OFW who worked at a meat packing plant in Canada has died after catching COVID-19. He was just 35 years old.
Darwin Doloque, an immigrant from the Philippines was found dead last January 28, 2021, at his residence in Red Deer, Alberta.
Doloque had been working at the Olymel meat processing plant, where a COVID-19 outbreak had been declared by public health officials.
The company said that it is temporarily shutting down the plant, due to the escalating COVID-19 outbreak.
Since Monday, February 15, 2021, more than 326 employees at the slaughterhouse have tested positive.
Just the week earlier, more than 168 employees had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Olymel slaughterhouse has more than 1,850 employees, with more than 60% of them working a second job.
Employees spoke to CBC, but only after being guaranteed anonymity.
The Olymel employees told CBC that they were afraid to go to work.
They also said that the fear of catching COVID-19 from their fellow employees and infecting their families were having a negative effect on their mental health.
Olymel has closed the slaughterhouse to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
An investigation is now underway to determine the cause of the outbreak.
Olymel had been working closely with public health officials, who had advised the company that the outbreak at the slaughterhouse had become a “concern for public health”.
CBC reports that they were able to secure a copy of a letter from public health officials, which said that they believed that 1 out of five workers at the slaughterhouse was likely infected.
Prior to the closure, public health officials have inspected the slaughterhouse 14 different times, each time declaring the facility safe to operate.
Workers who spoke with CBC are worried about how they’ll be able to pay the bills now that they’re sick.
“We workers, we feel insecure. We feel unsafe inside the plant,” the anonymous worker told CBC. “We are hoping that they will close temporarily.”
Now the worker is sick, and he just found out that he’s infected his entire family as well. Everyone is forced to self isolate for the next 14 days.
“We don’t know what to do. We are hoping the government will help us.” The anonymous worker told the CBC. “We are all positive and now we don’t have work. We have a big problem.”
The union representing the workers had been requesting for the slaughterhouse to be shutdown since February 5, 2021.
Olymel has said that they had been cooperating with public health officials in an effort to control the outbreak.
Workers who spoke with CBC felt that the company was not doing enough to control the outbreak.
Workers who were tested went back to work without having received the results.
Things got worse when Doloque passed away. According to workers who spoke with CBC, some colleagues who had close contact with the OFW didn’t get tested and continued reporting to work.
Shortly after getting tested, those who had close contact with the deceased OFW all tested positive.
Olymel had required that workers who had symptoms were not allowed to report to work.
Workers who had close contact to those that tested positive were also required to isolate for 14 days.
Public health officers told the CBC that the slaughterhouse had maintained compliance with public health orders, telling the CBC that they took “proactive steps to enhance their practices and mitigation measures”.
There are now 8 different outbreaks at different slaughterhouses across Canada, including the Cargill facility in High River, Alberta.
More than 950 workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Cargill facility.
Workers at that meat packing plant, including many OFWs, have alleged that their company had been instructed to continue working despite having tested positive for COVID-19.
Do you know anyone who is working at a meat packing plant in Canada?
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