Brazil judge orders all workers at JBS plant to stay home due to coronavirus

Adds JBS comment, background

SAO PAULO, July 17 (Reuters) - A Brazilian judge has ordered all employees at a pork plant owned by meatpacker JBS JBSS3.SA to stay home for at least 14 days due to a coronavirus outbreak that prosecutors say has affected over 40% of the staff.

The judge made the decision on Thursday, according to a court document.

The plant in the town of Tres Passos in Rio Grande do Sul state has about 1,000 employees, according to prosecutors. It is one of six Brazilian meat plants currently barred from exporting to China over coronavirus concerns.

JBS declined to comment, saying the legal case was ongoing. It added it was adhering to the highest safety standards.

Several plants owned by JBS in Brazil and the United States have had coronavirus outbreaks, leading to criticism that the company is not doing enough to protect its blue-collar workers.

Thousands of workers have been infected. At Tres Passos, a 48-year-old JBS employee died from COVID-19 complications in June, prosecutors have said.

In late June, prosecutors said 117 workers at the plant had tested positive, but on Friday they said that number had almost quadrupled to more than 400.

Other JBS plants have been shut down and then reopened as prosecutors and defense lawyers won competing favorable decisions.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; writing by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang)

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