Test results due on more than 300 Banham Poultry workers after coronavirus outbreak

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Test results from more than 300 workers at Banham Poultry, after a coronavirus outbreak, are expected back today (Wednesday, August 26).

Banham Poultry has had a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Banham Poultry has had a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Public health experts are awaiting the results of analysis of the tests carried out after a number of workers at the Attleborough firm tested positive for COVID-19.

Norfolk County Council revealed that seven workers had tested positive for the virus last week and were isolating for 14 days.

But results on 300 further staff are expected today and Dr Louise Smith, director of public health, said she was expecting more positive tests.

Not all of the 600 workers at Banham Poultry have been tested, with workers connected to one particular room at the factory the focus of the testing.

Dr Smith told BBC Look East she did not know at this stage how many positive tests there would be.

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She said: “I think it is an outbreak that we are taking very seriously. You can see that by how fast we have moved. We knew about the first case on Friday and we started testing over 300 people by Monday afternoon.”

The factory is still open. Dr Smith said closing the factory would depend on a number of factors and it was “not a black and white decision”.

She said there had been high numbers of cases in factories elsewhere and she said there could be similar outbreaks in other food manufacturing factories, but it was too early to know for sure.She said: “Everything we are seeing at the moment is linked, we don’t know where this is going to go but I am confident that we have been notified early and that we have taken actions early, but we won’t know until we give it time.”

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Dr Smith also revealed that Norfolk County Council had been planning for and “expected” a food processing factory outbreak after similar cases elsewhere in the country.

“We know it is a particular risk area,” she said.

“It might be because the rooms tend to be cold, and relatively humid, or it might because they have to stand close together, we don’t know 100pc why, but we have been planning for and always expected that we would get food processing outbreaks.”

Elsewhere in Norfolk, only a few weeks ago, Gorleston saw a rise in cases after a staff member tested positive at a Wetherspoons pub and four tested positive at a nursery.

Dr Smith said the test and trace system successfully “kicked in” to prevent the spread and the situation has now “settled down”.

She added: “I think we have been well coordinated as a system, the different organisations working together We have had really good support from businesses that have been affected.

“All of the businesses we have worked with, whether they are nurses, pubs or factories, had already done lots of things to reduce the risk and control the spread.”

Banham Poultry bosses had said the company was “doing everything we can to prevent the further spread of the virus”.

Blaine van Rensburg, managing director of Banham Poultry said: “The safety of our staff, customers, and the wider public is really important to us and we are working with public health authorities to make sure we are doing absolutely everything we can and following all of the correct procedures.

“We have already invested in a range of procedures and protective equipment to keep our staff as safe as possible.”

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