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Five cases of COVID-19 confirmed at JD Irving mill


February 11, 2021
By J.D. Irving

J.D. Irving, Limited is working and cooperating fully with NB Public Health regarding five cases of COVID-19 identified at the company’s sawmill at St. Leonard, N.B.

The five individuals are self-isolating and none are in the hospital. These five employees work in an isolated area of the site, away from the main sawmill.

‘We wish our co-workers a speedy recovery. Keeping one another safe is the most important priority in our sawmills,’’ said Jerome Pelletier, vice-president of sawmills for J.D. Irving, Limited. “As soon as we learned about the first positive case, we closed the area where these employees work to perform deep disinfection. We also initiated our contact tracing protocols. We are now working closely with Public Health to perform COVID testing for employees at the site.”

On a voluntary basis, all 272 employees at the site will be provided the opportunity for three tests over the next 14 days. These tests include immediate rapid testing (results within 15 minutes) as well as the standard PCR test administered by Public Health, which will be processed at the Georges L. Dumont Laboratory in Moncton.

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The Panbio Rapid Test is an antigen-based SARS-COV-2 test kit that can screen people in 15 minutes without requiring a medical laboratory. The test specimen is collected by a medical professional via a nasal swab, immersed in a buffering solution, then added to a test cartridge which scans the sample for the COVID-19 virus. It then returns a result, much like a pregnancy test with a visible positive or negative result. These tests are made by Abbott, the company that developed the first licensed test for HIV.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, J.D. Irving, Limited has put multiple measures in place to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 including:

  • New protocols for daily non-invasive temperature screening at site entrances as well as hand sanitizing stations at the entrances and throughout the operations.
  • Prior to each shift, employees answer health screening questionnaires.
  • Virtual meetings are encouraged for employee teams and customers.
  • Significantly increased sanitization and disinfection protocols at each facility.
  • Added plexiglass barriers or masks where two metres physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Introduced pay continuation for self-isolation due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Have a senior leadership team dedicated to this effort and providing regular updates to employees.

Face masks are required for all employees when they are on site except when they are eating or alone in an enclosed office.

The company has a detailed COVID-19 operational plan as required by WorkSafeNB. In addition, as of Friday February 5, the company has purchased and has deployed wearable contact tracing sensors that track the distance between people wearing the sensors. The sensors provide alerts if physical distancing is breached.