LONDON -- An employee who worked at Ford's engine plant in Dagenham, England, has died of suspected COVID-19.
The death was disclosed by Ford CEO Jim Hackett during the automaker's first-quarter earnings call on Tuesday. "Ford has not been immune from the ravages of the virus. We have lost 11 colleagues in the U.S. and the UK to this pandemic," Hackett told analysts.
Ford did not give any details about the UK employee or the circumstances of the death.
The death is the first to be reported in the European automotive sector. UK union Unite said it was not aware of any deaths among its members working in the automotive industry.
Ford stopped production at the Dagenham factory on March 23 as part of a wider shutdown of its plants across Europe as governments imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Ford has said that the majority of its European plants will reopen on May 4 but said that Dagenham and its second UK engine plant in Bridgend, Wales, would remain shut until further notice. It did not give a reason for the delay in reopening the UK plants.
Dagenham builds diesel engines for models such as the Transit van and U.S. market F-150 pickup.
Ford was one of the first automakers in Europe to report a case of COVID-19 after an employee at its R&D facility in Merkenich, Germany, tested positive early in March. About 30 employees were sent home from the facility, where Ford employs about 4,000 people.
Britain has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with 21,678 hospital deaths reported as of April 28.