The figure represents a quarter of the total workforce of the JBS SA pig plant in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. In the same locality, there is another focus on a poultry farm.

More than 1,000 workers at a JBS SA pig plant in Brazil, or a quarter of those examined, are infected with covid-19, according to figures from the Labor Prosecutor’s Office. The high infection rate reveals the challenges that Brazilian meat companies face in keeping plants operating as the virus spreads throughout the nation.

Massive tests at JBS’s Dourados plant in Mato Grosso do Sul state began on May 25, according to documents shared by prosecutors. Of 4,134 employees analyzed, 1,075 tested positive as of July 1. The company said in a statement that it implemented its contingency plan right after confirming the first case at the plant, helping to prevent further contamination among workers.

In the same municipality, a poultry plant owned by BRF SA also reported an outbreak of coronavirus. The unit had 85 confirmed cases of covid-19 , of which 72 recovered and returned to work, according to July 3 figures shared by the prosecution. The plant employs 1,500 workers.

BRF said it voluntarily adopts a protocol for testing covid-19 in all its units, including Dourados, which aims to protect workers and operations. The company said it only discloses the number of positive cases to the competent authorities to respect the privacy of employees.

Both companies said they are hiring to replace workers who are not due to covid-19 infections.

Since last week, China suspended meat imports from more than 20 plants in different countries that reported covid-19 outbreaks, including four Brazilian facilities, owned by JBS . The move raises concerns about more suspensions and is expected to slow growth of meat imports by the Asian giant, according to Rabobank.

Brazil has become a new epicenter of the coronavirus with a number of infections that is barely outnumbered by the US After reaching major cities, the virus is now spreading through rural areas. Mato Grosso do Sul is located in the heart of Brazil’s agriculture.

The South American giant already accumulates 63,254 deaths from the coronavirus. It reached that figure after registering 1,264 victims in the last 24 hours. The balance of infected, meanwhile, reached 1,543,341, after 41,988 new cases were reported , reported the Brazilian press media consortium, which collects statistics from the health ministries in the country’s 26 states. Of these total cases, the Ministry of Health noted that 607,535 patients are under follow-up, while another 868,372 have already recovered.

Brazil, which has not yet reached the peak of the pandemic, continues to position itself as one of the global outbreaks of the disease and the main epicenter of COVID-19 in Latin America .

Sao Paulo, the most industrialized and populated region of Brazil, with some 46 million inhabitants, continues as the epicenter of the pandemic with more than 15,000 deaths and 300,000 infected .

It is followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 10,500 victims and more than 110,000 confirmed cases, and Ceará, which with more than 6,300 deaths and 118,000 infected people , is the most affected state in Northeast Brazil, one of the most impoverished regions of the country and also one of the most battered by the pandemic.

Although the number of infections in Brazil exceeds 1.5 million people, various experts point out that the figures may be much higher due to underreporting of cases.

This was indicated by a study by the Federal University of Pelotas, released on Thursday by the Health Ministry, which revealed that 3.8% of Brazilians would have contracted the disease, bringing the total number of infected to 8 million.

BOLSONARO VETA TAPABOCAS

While several regions of the country seek to reactivate their activities with the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of the virus and a possible new wave of the disease, the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, vetoed the obligation of the blindfolds inside shops, religious temples and schools, among others.

The president sanctioned this Friday a bill on the mandatory use of masks against COVID-19, but he vetoed some sections in which it was required to wear them in such places, arguing that in those cases the measure “incurs a possible violation of domicile “contrary to the Constitution.

In his decision, the president also vetoed other clauses that obliged the public powers to distribute masks to the most economically vulnerable population and to companies to supply said material to their workers free of charge.

Bolsonaro’s vetoes, which will still have to be analyzed by Congress, do not, however, annul the laws passed in some states and municipalities in which the use of masks in public spaces is already mandatory, under penalty of fines in some cases. , like Brasilia and Sao Paulo.

However, the president’s decision causes confusion among the population and more at a time when some cities and municipalities in the country began to open the doors of their shops to revive the economy.

Such is the case of Rio de Janeiro that on Thursday allowed the reopening of bars and restaurants throughout the city, a decision that was made in a folkloric way by a good part of the people of Rio de Janeiro.

The southern part of the city was one of the areas of the city that registered the most movement on Thursday night where crowds of people were seen crowded in the streets around bars, drinking beer and without any type of mask or protection against the new coronavirus.

In the state of Sao Paulo, which a few weeks ago began de-escalation in some of its municipalities, the Campinas region, about 100 kilometers from the São Paulo capital and which exceeds one million inhabitants, had to reverse its plan and return to the maximum alert phase from Monday after registering a growth in the number of hospitalizations.

With information from Bloomberg and EFE