Covid outbreak at Norfolk meat factory spreads as 175 workers now struck down

A CORONAVIRUS outbreak at a Norfolk meat factory has grown, with 175 workers now struck down by the deadly bug.

Officials say there's been a "significant outbreak" of Covid at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Dr Louise Smith, the county's director of public health, said that 185 negative tests have also been returned at Cranswick Country Foods in Watton.

A mobile testing unit is at the site, which makes pork products, and Dr Smith said she anticipates hundreds more test results to be confirmed and validated within 24 hours.

Most of those who tested positive work in butchery.

The plant remains open – but George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Environment Secretary George Eustice over the issue.

Mr Freeman is calling for a "fast decision" on whether doors should shut while workers are falling ill.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, told the press conference that he supports Mr Freeman's approach.

"We can't be left in a limbo situation where there's no decision," said Mr Proctor.

The council's director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said the local authority was working with the Joint Biosecurity Centre to urge people in the Watton area to get tested if they have symptoms.

In a statement, she said: "Testing of staff at Cranswick Foods has revealed a significant outbreak.

"The analysis of swabs continues and the remaining staff on site are being tested today and tomorrow.

"Due to the high proportion of positive case results received so far, we are liaising with the Joint Biosecurity Centre and have stepped up contact tracing and leafletting in the Watton area, urging people with symptoms to access testing."

It comes as 30 members of staff at a Nestle factory in Newcastle caught the virus – sparking "widespread testing" at the Fawdon site.

The outbreak at the factory, where over 40,000 tonnes of confectionery is made each year, has affected around five per cent of all workers at the site.

Earlier in October, almost 150 workers at two Bernard Matthews turkey plants – one in Great Witchingham, Norfolk – also tested positive for coronavirus.

The local authority said testing at the site began on October 15, with more than 600 members of staff tested.

Norfolk County Council said: "Results showed that the majority of positive cases so far worked on the afternoon shift at the site, leading Public Health to advise Bernard Matthews that the entire shift be instructed to self-isolate."

At the branch in Suffolk, Bernard Matthews brought in Covid-19 bus marshals on its free staff transport as part of its response to the outbreak.

Covid-19 outbreaks in factories have been reported across the UK.

Earlier this month, more than 170 people tested positive for coronavirus at a meat processing plant in Cornwall.

Most of those who tested positive at the Pilgrim's Pride factory in Pool were asymptomatic, the local public health team said.

An alert to the national test and trace service from one staff member ultimately led to 500 employees at the plant getting tested.

At the beginning of September, staff at a Tesco warehouse in West Lothian, Scotland were self-isolation after cases were confirmed.

In North Wales, at least 158 workers contracted the killer virus at chicken processing plant 2 Sisters.

In Swindon, another 51 staff at an Iceland warehouse in had tested positive for coronavirus in July.

And in August, 100 workers at a chicken factory in Norfolk also became infected with Covid.

Source: Read Full Article