Banham Poultry outbreak: Health leader hails ‘encouraging progress’ as cases fall
PUBLISHED: 14:19 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:07 08 September 2020
Norfolk’s public health chief has hailed “encouraging” progress at Banham Poultry as the latest data shows a fall in coronavirus cases in the county.
The total number of positive cases at the factory following an outbreak in August is now 127 out of 735 workers tested, Dr Louise Smith said on Tuesday.
Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and contact tracers brought in from Essex County Council, Dr Smith said that almost 70pc of contacts of infected workers had now been traced - up from 50pc last week.
A council spokesman said multiple attempts had been made to reach all known contacts.
The council is expected to announce further details later this week of its own contact tracing service, which it is setting up following issues with the national one.
It comes as 108 Banham Poultry workers who were isolating have been given the all clear to return to the factory.
Mobile testing units have also been set up in areas where Banham Poultry staff live, including Great Yarmouth, and those tests had shown there were 16 other cases in the community, with five of those in the same household as an infected worker. That is out of a total of 1860 tests.
“The peak of the outbreak has passed and the numbers are starting to go down,” Dr Smith said.
The current infection rate in Norfolk is 8.7 positive cases per 100,000 people, she said, down from 18.3 at the height of the Banham outbreak.
Dr Smith added that there had been no other outbreaks over the last few days, despite one staff member at Primark in Norwich and one at Old Buckenham High School testing positive.
Four patients are in Norfolk hospitals with coronavirus, but none are in intensive care.
Norfolk was placed on a list to get extra government help with testing last week, but Dr Smith said the data showed that no extra restrictions would be “warranted or justified”.
Council leader Andrew Proctor said the progress was encouraging but warned: “We can not afford to drop our guard.”
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, meanwhile, highlighted the economic impact of the outbreak at Banham, stating it was costing the factory £2.5m a week. “Businesses which shut down to prevent Covid-19 spreading should be eligible for financial support,” he said on Twitter.
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