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Company closed due to coronavirus patient

The Ministry of Health has ordered the closure of a local milling company in Tempe, St George after the discovery of at least three cases of COVID-19 among its staff.

The order to close the processing plant came early last week after one employee who works in the milling room of the facility, tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 18 and opening up the possibility of community spread of the deadly virus that is rampaging across the globe.

Health Minister Nickolas Steele announced Saturday that another two employees had also tested positive and there is now a high probability that Grenada is in the community spread phase of the novel coronavirus, since the patient has not been in contact with any previously diagnosed cases.

However, due to his job, he had been in contact with a cargo ship which had been to Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago – countries that are known to have a much higher number of COVID-19 cases than Grenada.

Sixty-nine employees have been tested and the COVID-19 surveillance team is continuing contact tracing.

Based on investigations conducted, Case 15, likely came in contact with dozens of people as a result of his social habits.

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Several people with whom he had been in close contact outside of his job have reportedly refused to follow self-quarantine guidelines and were spotted congregating at a popular ‘watering hole’ in the community.

A source who is aware of the patients pre-existing medical condition and the previous trips to the hospital has said that they are also looking at the possibility that he may have been exposed persons at the hospital.

When the patient was admitted on Sunday, this was his third trip to the Emergency room over the last two weeks with respiratory problems and at one point he was admitted to the Male Surgical Ward of the General Hospital.

When a company official was asked whether there is any possibility that the positive virus patient could have contaminated the products, he said: “The amount of heat that the flour goes through, the coronavirus can’t survive that and the workers in the mill don’t come in contact with it (flour) again.”

The official said the company had initiated several prevention measures at the plant, including additional pipes for hand washing and sanitiser dispensers at various entrances within the building.