US chicken business Sanderson Farms has initiated precautionary measures after one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus.

It announced yesterday (23 March) that an employee at its McComb, Mississippi processing plant had tested positive for the virus and that it had acted to contain the spread of the disease.

It said the individual’s work area was contained to one small processing table. 

CEO Joe Sanderson said: “Upon learning of this case, we took a number of immediate steps to protect the health and safety of our employees.

“Following CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and local health department guidelines, and procedures developed in consultation with an infectious disease physician, we identified six individuals in the work area who could be at risk, and those employees, along with the infected employee, have been sent home to self-quarantine with pay. 

“We also conducted a thorough cleaning of the affected work area as well as all of our other facilities over the weekend. We notified all other personnel at the McComb plant of the confirmed case and will continue to work in close partnership with the local health department in McComb and the Mississippi State Department of Health for guidance. 

“We will follow these same procedures if other employees at any of our facilities test positive for the virus. All of our locations, including McComb, continue normal operations.”

Sanderson Farms has implemented a site infection control plan at all its locations under which company health professionals have been trained to identify employees with symptoms of Covid-19.

The company said as very few of its employees can do their jobs remotely, it is ensuring that its processing and production sites are continuously evaluating staffing needs, as well as on-site health and safety measures during this pandemic.