Coronavirus logic – or not?

With Coronavirus outbreaks in meat factories in Anglesey and in Kirklees Council area (aka Huddersfield) there is much wondering about why food packing should be so badly hit.

I would have thought this was obvious; every food processing plant has a form of air conditioning – for the obvious reason of preventing outside infection – yet this is not necessarily healthy for those that are working in its atmosphere…

Having worked for a short time in air-conditioned offices I can honestly say that I have never had so many respiratory or ‘cold’ complaints – none fortunately of great consequence – although colleagues were much more inflicted and were ‘sick’ as a result. Yet I remember being admonished for opening windows (supposedly ‘locked’ by authority) into the polluted Croydon air!

My mother spent a fortnight in hospital as a probable victim of legionnaire’s disease, having worked for most of her life in an air-conditioned office.

She is now, unsurprisingly a fresh air fiend!

This is of course no more than anecdotal evidence.

But perhaps I should suggest that basic anecdote is still some evidence.

And even basic logic suggests that fresh air helps to avoid a virus…

Comments

  1. Tony_B -

    It’s a question that public health need to tackle and research.

    Another industry built on driving costs to a minimum, with low skilled and lower paid workers.

    Why meat plants. It’s most likely the working conditions, close together and air (most droplets) movement through the factory. A cold damp environment enables viruses to ‘live’ longer and thus exacerbate infectivity. Covid-19 could survive days in a cold damp environment, especially as there is limited UV [sterilising] light, and possibly years on any frozen meats. A warm dry workplace suits a virus less. A major redesign of air flow (principles like a fume cupboard, of away from the person) might be part of a solution – can you see it happening?

    Meat factories are a production line environment where contamination, once established could be persistent and transferred along the line worker-to-worker, e.g. in water and droplets that may spray around and carried in cold wet air. Virus reservoirs in infected humans not only come from the mouth/nose but also potentially from faeces.

    Workers in meat plants have described themselves as “modern slaves” and “the entire sector is in a disastrous race to the bottom, driven by the market and by consumer demand for cheap meat” [1]. No wonder there are problems – hands up any one who wants to work there.

    What has also been unspoken are reports of mass slaughter of “unwanted” animals. This is outrageous treatment of the animal kingdom and has to be halted.

    [1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/22/poor-conditions-in-meat-plants-fuel-covid-19-outbreaks-say-unions

    1. Peter May -

      Thanks for the link. I was struck by this which probably disproves my thesis!
      “Why are there no outbreaks in the dairy sector in this case? They also have cool sections, they deal with the frozen food sector. The outbreaks are because of the working conditions.”

  2. Tony_B -

    Peter,

    Another thought – perhaps the Wuhan meat market is not the true source.

    Meat markets are just one of the virus amplifiers e.g. like major public gatherings?

    Think Wuhan and Beijing meat markets, these are enormous and once infection is established are massive sources of infection. The UK meat processes are smaller units, and smaller than the mega US meat processors.

    1. Peter May -

      Agreed, I think the Wuhan meat market was almost definitely not the source and as you say was an ‘amplifier’. All the more so if they really have found Covid in Spanish effluent from Spring last year ..

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