18 workers at Bernard Matthews factory in Suffolk test positive for coronavirus
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Eighteen workers at the Bernard Matthews turkey processing plant near Halesworth have tested positive for Covid-19.
The staff and their contacts, all working at the firm’s factory in Holton, are self-isolating at home after around 100 employees were tested for coronavirus.
But health experts have moved to reassure the community, highlighting how only a “relatively small number” of staff at the facility have tested positive for the virus.
Bernard Matthews introduced a range of measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 at their factories earlier this year, including regular temperature checks, staff working in bubbles, marshals, masks and visors and social distancing.
Around 100 staff have recently been tested for the virus, with the majority returning negative results - but 18 were tested positive.
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It understood that the majority of the employees who tested positive for coronavirus live in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas, with a Bernard Matthews spokesman saying the virus is not believed to have spread among workers at the factory.
The outbreak comes just over a month after the Banham Poultry factory in Norfolk was forced to close after 80 workers returned positive coronavirus tests.
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Stuart Keeble, Suffolk’s director of public health, said: “I’d like to reassure people that this is, at this stage, a relatively small number of cases and that the situation is being very carefully managed by all the partners working closely together.
“All partners recognise the importance of protecting staff and the wider community, which is why we’re reminding people, especially those who live in these areas, to keep following government guidance around hand washing, social distancing and wearing face coverings.
“Together we can stop the spread of Covid-19 and keep people safe.
“I’d especially like to recognise Barnard Matthews’ management for the speed and thoroughness with which they’ve acted. They have extensive controls in place and we’re supporting them closely.”
A Bernard Matthews spokesman said: “We are grateful for the help of all local agencies and we fully support their objectives to protect the local community.
“We believe these small number of cases were initiated in the community, but nevertheless we will continue to enforce our robust Covid measures as we enter into our busiest period of the year.”
The Bernard Matthews factory in Suffolk received the go-ahead to expand last year in a scheme that would create up to 650 new jobs.
In 2007, thousands of turkeys at the Holton plant were culled after an outbreak of bird flu.