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Almost 50 workers at Banham Poultry test positive amid coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 14:22 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:46 27 August 2020

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

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

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Almost 50 workers linked to Banham Poultry have tested positive for COVID-19 after more than 300 workers were checked following a coronavirus outbreak.

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

And, with that number potentially rising, with more results expected, Norfolk’s director for public health said it had “significant implications” for the health of the workforce and for the Attleborough-based company as a business.

It paves the way for the possibility that at least part of the business could have to be temporarily closed.

An initial seven workers had tested positive on Monday, after the first cases of coronavirus were reported on Friday last week.

But there have now been 46 positive tests, after widespread testing of more than 300 workers at the factory on Monday and Tuesday.

Norfolk’s Public Health team is working with the management team at Banham Poultry and colleagues at Breckland Council, Public Health England and the Department of Health.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health, said: “We can confirm that we have now received a significant number of positive tests from workers at the Banham Poultry site and we are awaiting further test results, which may reveal more positive cases.

“This has significant implications for the health of the workforce and significant implications for Banham Poultry as a business.

“Banham Poultry have been working hard to ensure the health and safety of their staff.

“We are now working with colleagues across the county, regionally and nationally to take specialist advice, including learning from other similar outbreaks in other parts of the UK.

“This will assist us to quickly make decisions on what the next steps will be to prevent further transmission of the virus.”

Outbreaks at other food manufacturing factories in other parts of the UK have led to factories having to temporarily shut.

Dr Smith said: “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.”

Norfolk County Council, which sent letters to 450,000 Norfolk homes just last week reminding people that coronavirus was “still with us”, urged people concerned about contracting the virus to “remember the basics”.

The council said people should continue to wash their hands regularly and ensure they continue with social distancing.

They said anyone who feels unwell, even if their symptoms are mild, should isolate with your household and get a test.

Tests can be booked by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk.

Tests are free and anyone with symptoms is eligible.

The symptoms are a continuous cough, high temperature and loss of taste or smell.

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County Council, said: “This outbreak shows the critical importance of making sure we learn the lessons and ensure there are enough resources to respond swiftly.

“We know delays are costly in every sense so we must make sure our public health team can do the job we need from them.”

Philip Leslie, mayor of Attleborough, said he had expected to see an increase in confirmed cases, but moved to reassure the town’s residents.

“They have tested all 300 staff which I think has been exceptional – we are very grateful for public health England, their quick response and the way they have escalated resources to tackle it,” he said. 
“However, it will raise eyebrows within the community to see such a large number of confirmed cases.

“So the main thing for us as a town council, is to keep on top of the situation and reassure that residents it seems to be isolated at Banham Poultry alone. 
“We will remain vigilant and keep following government guidance. But we also need to have good practice within our homes as well. People are becoming a little lax and don’t follow rules in their own homes.

“We need to work hard at recognising that this is still a real issue. We don’t have the vaccine in place yet or the long-term solution so we need to treat it as seriously we did a few months ago.

“We as a community are keeping our ears to the ground and ready to act on advice that comes.”


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