Two workers at a Coles distribution centre in Melbourne have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Two workers at a Coles distribution centre in Melbourne have tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Picture: Alix Sweeney

‘Entire cohort’ tested at Coles facility

The "entire cohort" of staff at a Coles distribution centre in Victoria is being tested for COVID-19 after a second employee tested positive for the virus.

Victorian deputy chief health officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen on Friday said the department was working closely with Coles to "work through" the two cases in staff at the Laverton distribution centre.

"One of those cases is very clearly linked to a large outbreak, that is the second Keilor Downs outbreak, so we do have a very clear source of acquisition for that," she said.

"Nonetheless, all of the close contacts identified are in quarantine.

"A further cohort of staff are in quarantine in terms of they are not close contacts but they have worked shifts with these staff members, albeit at very large distances because it is a very large workplace.

"But we are taking no chances and those staff members are literally just going to work and going home, and we are testing the entire cohort of workers, because it is a very large group of workers and we really don't want to take any chances with our essential food suppliers at this point in time."

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton on Thursday confirmed both cases were linked to the Keilor Downs family outbreak which has grown to 19 cases after further contacts tested positive for the coronavirus.

 

The first case identified at the distribution centre had worked while infectious, according to the state’s health department.
The first case identified at the distribution centre had worked while infectious, according to the state’s health department.

The first case of the two Coles cases was announced on Tuesday.

Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services said the person had worked at the centre "while infectious last week".

"Close contacts have been identified and quarantined," the department said.

"The centre commenced a deep clean last night. Due to its size, regular cleaning measures and physical distancing, the risk of transmission is very low.

"The centre will be able to continue to operate with strict physical distancing to ensure safe food and grocery supply across the state."

Dr van Diemen on Friday said the supermarket giant has an "exceedingly comprehensive suite of infection control" and had increased those processes in the last 48 hours.

She announced 30 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, yet another double-digit increase in numbers for the state.

Victorian deputy chief health officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen said two workers from the Coles distribution centre in Laverton had tested positive while isolating with family members. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Victorian deputy chief health officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen said two workers from the Coles distribution centre in Laverton had tested positive while isolating with family members. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

In a statement released yesterday, Coles said both workers had tested positive while self-isolating after family members returned positive tests.

"Any team members identified through contact tracing as having had close contact with them have been instructed to self-isolate and be tested for COVID," it said in a statement.

"A number of additional team members have chosen to self-isolate and undergo testing, and Coles supports their decision.

"Coles is now working with the Health Department to facilitate COVID testing of team members who work at the site as quickly as possible."

Coles said all of its distribution centres, including Laverton, are fitted with thermal imaging cameras and handheld contactless thermometers to check the temperature of staff and transport providers before they enter the facility.

"Coles already has sanitiser stations at all entrances and exits and throughout the facility, and machinery operated by team members is sanitised between uses," it said.

"While team members at the distribution centre generally do not work in close proximity due to the size of the site and the nature of their roles, Coles has also reinforced the need for social distancing with visible guidelines throughout the facility."

 

Originally published as 'Entire cohort' tested at Coles facility


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