BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — COFCO and Bunge have temporarily suspended operations at some of their Argentinian grain plants after some employees tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), Reuters reported.

Operations were halted at COFCO’s Timbues grain plant after 12 out of 24 people tested positive for COVID-19, a COFCO spokesperson told Reuters.

 Allan Virtanen, global communications director of COFCO, said the facility will remain idle until employee safety is guaranteed. COFCO’s Timbues facility has 350 employees and has an annual grains and oilseeds processing capacity of 6.5 million tonnes, Reuters said.

COFCO said it does not expect its exports from Argentina to be impacted by the temporary closing of its Timbues facility and is implementing preventive measures such as social distancing, temperature checks upon entry and distributing hand sanitizers and masks.

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) July 28 situation report, Argentina has a total of 162,526 confirmed COVID-19 cases and a total of 2,956 related deaths. Globally, WHO estimates a total of 16.341 million COVID-19 cases with a total of 650,805 related deaths.

In a statement Bunge confirmed one employee at its Puerto General San Martin facility had tested positive for COVID-19 and the company tested others who had been in contact with the person. Those tests were negative, Reuters reported.

“Because the regional union has interrupted plant operations, Bunge has redirected soybean deliveries to other locations in Argentina so that we can continue to serve our customers,” Bunge said in a statement to Reuters.

 COFCO and Bunge had not replied to World Grain’s request for comments as of publishing.

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