Unilever confirms 30 employees test positive for Covid-19 at Boksburg plant


Unilever South Africa has confirmed that 30 of its employees and 12 contractors tested positive for Covid-19 at its factory in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.

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"An employee at the plant first reported a positive test for Covid-19 the weekend before Easter, a week after the employee was last on site," corporate affairs and sustainable business director South Africa Shobna Persadh told News24 on Tuesday.

"In line with the established NICD [National Institute for Communicable Diseases] protocols, Unilever South Africa immediately traced all the direct contacts and advised them to self-isolate," she added.

As a result, operations at the Boksburg plant were paused to undertake a deep clean.

"This was a company decision as the well-being of employees remains a top priority and every precaution is being taken to keep them safe.

"We also recognise that our products are needed to combat the coronavirus and we are committed to maintain supplies of essential goods under safe conditions," she further explained.

READ: | Covid-19: PPE for workers is crucial, Ekurhuleni mayor tells owners at Boksburg shopping centre

A full testing and tracing programme launched by Unilever together with the Department of Health for approximately 680 employees and contractors found that 30 employees and 12 contractors tested positive for the virus.

"They will remain in quarantine until cleared to return to work. Our thoughts are with them for a speedy recovery," Persadh said.

Gauteng Health authorities confirmed to News24 on Thursday that it met with Unilever SA on Wednesday and that the said plant will resume operations.

"The Ekurhuleni team met with Unilever," Spokesperson Kwara Kekana said.

"They will resume operations as of today, the facility has been fogged and only employees who tested negative will be at work, we are monitoring the situation and we continue to work with them," Kekana concluded.

Note: this story has been updated to reflect comment from the Gauteng Department of Health.

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