Fish canner in Portugal reports case of coronavirus

A confirmed case of coronavirus has been reported at Thai Union Group’s seafood canning plant at Peniche in the Oeste region of Portugal.

Upon receipt of the worker’s positive test results, Thai Union’s European Seafood Investment Portugal (ESIP) plant, which cans and exports sardines and mackerel, immediately informed all local health and government authorities. As a precautionary measure, the company sent home some 200 of the 850 workers at the plant who might have come into contact with the affected worker.

The facility also introduced strict hygiene and safety measures to prevent any more incidents. Following consultations with all relevant parties, ESIP remains open and is working closely with all local health and government authorities on measures to ensure there is no further spread of the virus among its workforce.

The news from ESIP follows the temporary closure of the Thai Union’s Pioneer Food Cannery (PFC) seafood canning plant at Tema in Ghana in April for disinfection and cleaning after an employee there also tested positive for coronavirus.

The member of staff at Peniche felt unwell on Wednesday 20 May and immediately reported to the onsite infirmary before being sent home. On Thursday and Friday the person’s symptoms continued to develop and, on Saturday 23 May, a test was performed with the results proving positive on Monday 25 May.

The employee continues to self-isolate and is currently not displaying severe symptoms of the virus and is said not to be in any immediate danger.

The workers that were sent home as a precautionary measure have not so far reported any symptoms to suggest they had contracted the virus. However, they are self-isolating and will receive full testing as a priority, said Thai Union. Local health authorities have been provided with a full list of these people and will contact them to arrange testing and advise on next steps. 

Any areas of the facility used by the affected worker have been disinfected, including locker rooms, break areas and production lines. This has been done in accordance with government and local health authority guidelines. ESIP continues to maintain robust anti-viral measures, including temperature checks at entrances, full use of personal protective equipment (PPE), regular hand sanitising and increased cleaning regimes. 

ESIP contributed around two per cent of Thai Union’s annual sales in 2019.

In March this year, Thai Union, which has its headquarters in Bangkok, donated THB 1 million (US$30,637) in tuna and other products to help the Thai government’s medical staff who are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.