HAZELDENE'S has responded to rumours circulating Bendigo about its operations following its first positive COVID-19 test on 1 August.
Authorities have so far linked the 21st case to the chicken company's outbreak.
Hazeldene's wanted to clarify its decisions after seeing comments on social media speculating about the risks workers might have been placed under when brought back to work.
It has confirmed that anyone not deemed a "close contact" was not sent into isolation, though they were tested as a precautionary measure.
The DHHS defines as "close contact" as someone who has face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes with a confirmed case of coronavirus - or shares a closed space with them for more than two hours.
Chief Executive Mark Heintz said Hazeldene's followed directions by the Department of Health and Human Services.
"At Hazeldenes, we would do nothing to jeopardise the wellbeing of our staff or the efforts to bring this pandemic under control," he said.
The first person to test positive was a contractor who had travelled from Melbourne. Mr Heintz said all people deemed to be close contacts went into isolation.
A DHHS spokesperson said the first round of contact tracing identified 374 people.
"There are currently 21 cases linked to the outbreak including staff and close contacts," they said.
"Investigations into how the virus was introduced into the facility are ongoing."
DHHS believes Hazeldene's took considerable steps to prepare for coronavirus and put its plans in place quickly, reducing the risk of the virus spreading to the community.
The chicken company revoked access to all Melbourne-based contractors when the first case was reported on 1 August.
No contractors or employees from Melbourne have entered the site since that date.
Hazeldene's also pointed to protocols it brought in before the first positive COVID-19 test to slow or avoid the risk of an outbreak spreading.
Masks and temperature were made mandatory for all contractors and employees working on site, for example.
Other measures included mandatory temperature checks when entering the site. Teams, workrooms, lunchrooms, amenities and buildings were segregated.
Hazeldene's said it had followed protocols created by the Australian government and Department of Health.
Workplaces and aged care homes have helped drive new COVID-19 cases during the second wave.
While the department this week described Hazeldene's cluster as a "key outbreak", coronavirus has broken out at multiple meatworks and abattoirs.
Thomastown's Bertocchi Smallgoods is atop the list with 202 cases.
Hazeldene's is among chicken processors that this week won permission to work together to guarantee chicken supply.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave interim approval to the bid to help processors manage tight social distancing restrictions and protect jobs.
Mr Heintz said the authorisation would help the companies until restrictions eased.
Hazeldenes executive officer Mark Heintz said the authorisation would help shore up the supply of chicken products until restrictions eased.
"We are working through the processes and procedures with our fellow chicken processors now so that we can meet our supply chain obligations and make sure our customers have access to chicken products despite the increased COVID-19 restrictions," he said.
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