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· Brazil issues new guidelines for meatpackers as coronavirus pandemic ravages plants
· Brazil tops 1 million cases as coronavirus spreads inland
Brazil issues new guidelines for meatpackers as coronavirus pandemic ravages plants
Ana Mano, Reuters
June 19, 2020
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The Brazilian government on Friday published new guidelines for meatpackers after a spike of COVID-19 cases at food plants, including keeping workers at least one meter apart, but labor prosecutors criticized the steps as inadequate.
No testing is required under the ministry of agriculture’s new rules, which were issued after consultations with the labor prosecutor’s office.
A prosecutors’ representative said the guidelines ignored key recommendations made by the office that specified minimum distancing of 1.5 meters between workers in common areas of the plant, as well as mass testing.
The prosecutors’ recommendations also addressed the quality of face masks required for use, physical distancing and testing protocols.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that meatpacking workers be spaced at least six feet (two meters) apart.
In addition to distancing employees, Brazil’s ministry of agriculture said companies should also monitor those with coronavirus symptoms and immediately remove for 14 days anyone suspected of having been infected. They should also track any workers who came in contact with affected employees, it said.
The ministry said if the one-meter distance cannot be implemented, workers at the plants must wear surgical masks in addition to personal protective equipment, and impermeable partitions must be installed between employees.
The ministry said it incorporated certain of the labor prosecutor’s recommendations, made in a document dated June 2 and seen by Reuters.
As for the CDC’s 2-meter distancing...
Brazil tops 1 million cases as coronavirus spreads inland
By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press
via Star Tribune (MN) - June 19, 2020
SAO PAULO — Brazil's government confirmed on Friday that the country has risen above 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, second only to the United States.
The country's health ministry said that the total now stood at 1,032,913, up more than 50,000 from Thursday. The ministry said the sharp increase was due to corrections of previous days' underreported numbers.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro still downplays the risks of the virus after nearly 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 in three months, saying the impact of social isolation measures on the economy could be worse than the disease itself.
Specialists believe the actual number of cases in Brazil could be up to seven times higher than the official statistic. Johns Hopkins University says Brazil is performing an average of 14 tests per 100,000 people each day, and health experts say that number is up to 20 times less than needed to track the virus.
Official data show a downward trend of the virus in Brazil's north, including the hard-hit region of the Amazon, a plateau in cases and deaths in the countries' biggest cities near the Atlantic coast, but a rising curve in the south.
In the Brazilian countryside, which is much less prepared to handle a crisis, the pandemic is clearly growing. Many smaller cities have weaker health care systems and basic sanitation that's insufficient to prevent contagion.
"There is a lot of regional inequality in our public health system and a shortage of professionals in the interior," said Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil's Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials. "That creates many health care deserts, with people going long distances to get attention. When they leave the hospital, the virus can go with them."
The cattle-producing state of Mato Grosso was barely touched by the virus when it hit the nation's biggest cities in March. Sitting far from the coast, between the Bolivian border and Brazil's capital of Brasilia, its 3.3 million residents led a mostly normal life until May. But now its people live under lockdown and meat producers have dozens of infected workers.
In Tangará da Serra, a city of 103,000 people in Mato Grosso, the mayor decided Friday to forbid the sale of alcoholic drinks for two weeks as an incentive for people to stay home. Fábio Junqueira said the measure was needed after a spike in COVID-19 cases that filled 80% of the city's 54 intensive care beds. The city has had nearly 300 cases of the disease, plus three fatalities.
In Rondonópolis, only 300 miles away from Tangará da Serra and home to a thriving economy, health authorities closed the local meatpacking industry after 92 cases were confirmed there. The city of 144,000 inhabitants counted 21 deaths from the virus and more than 600 cases. The mayor has also decided to limit sales of alcoholic beverages.
Even regions once considered examples of successful efforts against the virus are now struggling...