Coronavirus: Number of cases increases 10-fold in two days in outbreak at Norfolk chicken plant

More than 20 per cent of those tested at factory found to be carrying virus

Vincent Wood@wood_vincent
Thursday 27 August 2020 19:35
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Banham Poultry employs several hundred people at a site in Attleborough near Norfolk
Banham Poultry employs several hundred people at a site in Attleborough near Norfolk

The number of recorded cases of Covid-19 infection in a Norfolk chicken plant has increased tenfold in two days — with more than 20 per cent of all tests conducted on staff returning a positive result.

Some 347 staff members at the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough were tested for the virus, with 75 people found to have been infected.

The chicken factory, which employs several hundred workers across a 12 acre site, had reported seven positive cases of the virus just two days prior to the announcement.

The firm has since agreed to close off part of its site following advice from Public Health England and officials in Norfolk, while all of its cutting room staff have been told to isolate.

The county’s Director of Public Health, Dr Louise Smith said the workers predominantly live in the areas of Breckland, Norwich, and Great Yarmouth. She added: "This action has been taken because we believe it is the most effective way to protect the wider public from further transmission.

“We have carefully assessed the various levels of risk to come to this decision.

"This has been an incredibly tough decision for Banham Poultry, whose management team has worked tirelessly to make arrangements for this partial closure, balancing the protection of the public, their staff and their business.”

Outbreaks have been common in food processing plants - where damp, cool indoor conditions allow for easy transmission of the virus.

However officials have said there is little need for concern over the virus spreading on to others through the food itself.

Dr Smith added: "At this stage in our investigation these cases of infection are in staff who work in Banham Poultry and their households.

“There is no evidence of increased risk to the general public. The risk of infection from food products is very low."

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