Brazil prosecutors probe coronavirus outbreaks in 10 meat plants in Mato Grosso

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian labor prosecutors said on Wednesday they were investigating novel coronavirus outbreaks in at least 10 meat processing plants in Mato Grosso state, including confirmed cases at eight plants owned by the world’s largest meatpacker JBS SA.

Meatpacking plants have been hot spots for spreading the coronavirus in Brazil and the United States as work is often carried out in close quarters and at low temperatures, which generally allow viruses to survive in the air longer.

In Brazil, meatpacking plants so far have been most affected in the south of the country, but the statement from Mato Grosso state prosecutors indicated the problem was also hitting the center-west region.

JBS, which has a total of 10 meat plants in Mato Grosso, reported 41 confirmed cases and 128 suspected cases between them, Mato Grosso state labor prosecutors said on their website.

Brazilian meatpacker Minerva, which also has operations in the state, has not reported any cases, according to the prosecutors.

JBS said in a statement it had adopted robust measures against the spread of coronavirus in its plants and that any sick workers were immediately put on leave. It declined to confirm the number of cases among its 11,000 workers in the state.

Minerva declined immediate comment.

The prosecutors office said that although it had provided meatpackers in the state with guidelines on coronavirus precautions, documents show plants in the state were failing to meet those standards.

Reporting by Ana Mano and Jake Spring; Editing by Tom Brown