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Test and trace response to Banham Poultry coronavirus outbreak not good enough, says Norfolk MP

PUBLISHED: 13:54 31 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 31 August 2020

Mid Norfolk Conservative MP George Freeman.  Photo: Uk Parliment

Mid Norfolk Conservative MP George Freeman. Photo: Uk Parliment

UK Parliament

A Norfolk MP has said a more urgent response is needed to prevent a “potentially catastrophic” impact on the county’s food industry in the wake of the Banham Poultry coronavirus outbreak.

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, has raised concerns of a lack of test and trace following the outbreak at the Attleborough factory, and that every day saw the risk rising.

On Friday, the MP argued the government should provide compensation to help companies like Banham Poultry.

More: Coronavirus ‘R’ rate rises closer to 1 in east of England

Mr Freeman said: “The lack of proper track and trace following the outbreak amongst workers in the Norfolk poultry sector is potentially catastrophic to our vital local food industry and economy.

“Norfolk is home to thousands of low paid workers in poultry and pork factories, many of whom live in hostels. All 800 staff at Banham and all their close contacts need tracing and testing, urgently.

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been an Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBanham Poultry in Attleborough, where there has been an Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We should have hundreds of public health officials and volunteers out with clipboards this weekend knocking on doors. Every day the risk rises.”

More: All 800 Banham Poultry staff to be tested for coronavirus

The MP said the county is home to thousands of low paid workers in poultry and pork factories, many of whom live in hostels.

Mr Freeman added: “If this ends up with a pandemic and lockdown of Norfolk food businesses and towns like Attleborough, Thetford and Dereham, there will be serious questions to answer about how this was allowed to happen.

“We need a much more urgent local operation led by our local councils and local public health officials.”

On Friday health chiefs announced all 800 staff members at the Attleborough factory would be tested and that 80 people had tested positive.

More: Banham Poultry workers affected by coronavirus will be supported, council vows

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk, said at a press conference on Friday a further 400 to 450 more people still needed to be tested.

The county council pledged to help those who are self isolating by providing support to help households access food, medicine and financial support.

Anyone who has tested positive must isolate for 10 days from the day of receiving a positive test result, or isolate for 14 days if they have worked closely with someone who has tested positive.

Anyone who needs help self-isolating can contact the Norfolk Assistance Scheme on 01603 22 3392. The line is open 10am and 4pm Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.


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