Durban - FRY Group Foods has been cleared to operate by the Department of Labour and medical specialists from the University of KwaZulu-Natal after a management member tested positive for Covid-19.
The company had suspected that a supplier who had visited the premises had transmitted the virus to their employee, resulting in the temporary closure of the facility.
However, a relative of an employee at the Pinetown facility said employees were getting calls from the company to return to work on Monday, which was Day 7 of their quarantine period.
“Workers are uncomfortable going to work, especially since all those who were found to be positive worked on the floor. About five employees tested positive and after more tests and screening, 20 were found to be positive,” he said.
He said the company employed about 400 workers and each shift had about 100 staff.
He was afraid for his family because if his relative unknowingly got the virus, they would all get it.
The Fry Group has disputed the man’s claims and said the medical team at UKZN had also reviewed their employee Return to Work policy.
Fry managing director Caroline Garnett said they were awaiting some test results but to date there were no additional confirmed Covid-19 cases beyond the one employee.
The worker was still recovering in isolation at his home, and only once he tested negative would he be allowed to return to work.
“All staff members who were in direct contact with this positive person have been quarantined. Those displaying symptoms have been tested for Covid-19 and we are awaiting their results. To date, we have received three negative results from this category of people. Those quarantined staff members who have not been tested and who have no symptoms, and who pass our Return to Work Policy, will be permitted to commence work only once their 14 day quarantine period has passed,” said Garnett.
The same process was being, and would be, followed for their three production shifts that were screened by the Department of Health in terms of their standard screening process.
To date, they have received four negative results and no positive results from this category.
“Those employees who were screened by the department and found fit to work, and have undergone our Return to Work screening process and have passed the screening, will be permitted to start work again. Those employees who fail our screening will not be allowed to start work and must seek medical advice,” said Garnett.
She said the group had added a number of controls since the pandemic, including a Covid-19 questionnaire for all entering their facility, social distancing rules, and the employment of monitors to ensure that their Covid policies are strictly adhered to.