(Corrects first paragraph to say “pork” instead of “chicken” plant; and corrects fourth paragraph to say Ana Rech “district” instead of “town”)
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, June 3 (Reuters) - Brazilian labor prosecutors on Wednesday filed a petition with a local court demanding closure of a JBS SA pork plant in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to a copy of the legal request seen by Reuters.
A decision is still pending, according to one of the three prosecutors who filed the suit to close another meat facility after JBS failed to stem outbreaks of the novel coronavirus on its production units.
According to evidence presented before the court, 21 out of 1,700 workers in that JBS factory have tested positive for the COVID-19 respiratory disease, and two are hospitalized.
The plant in Ana Rech, a district belonging to the town of Caxias do Sul, remains open, a JBS spokeswoman said without elaborating.
The company declined to comment on ongoing lawsuits and reiterated it has adopted a strict health protocol against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In late April and mid-May, there was a spate of COVID-19 at plants operated by JBS and rivals.
The outbreaks led authorities to request the temporary suspension of activities of JBS slaughterhouses in Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and Rondonia states.
Labor prosecutors have claimed meat-packers became a hotspot for the novel coronoavirus in Brazil.
In Rio Grande do Sul alone, there are 3,201 confirmed COVID-19 cases among meat plant workers at 26 plants, prosecutors said.
This equates to almost 35% of COVID-19 cases statewide, prosecutors said. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Writing by Gabriela Mello Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)