Eighteen more cases of coronavirus confirmed at Bernard Matthews site
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Bernard Matthews have confirmed 18 new positive coronavirus cases at its processing facility near Halesworth, bringing the total number of positive cases to 36.
All affected members of staff from the site at Holton are now self-isolating at home and are being supported by Bernard Matthews and public sector agencies.
So far 123 members of staff have been tested or are due to be tested, with most returning negative results. Food production and safety is unaffected.
Officials from Suffolk County Council, Public Health Suffolk, Public Health England, Public Health Norfolk, East Suffolk Council, Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group and Bernard Matthews are working together to manage the situation.
Stuart Keeble, Suffolk’s director of public health, said: “The swift and thorough work of our local contact tracers and staff, working alongside Bernard Matthews, has quickly identified these additional cases and we’ve been able to advise them to self-isolation straight away.
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“This will certainly help to reduce the spread of Covid-19. I would like to reiterate the reassurance I gave on Monday. This 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.
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“Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe.”
Teams from Suffolk and Norfolk are out in the community working with residents to provide advice and support to people who are affected and reminding them how to keep safe.
David Edwards, health protection consultant for Public Health England East of England, said: “We continue to work closely with the organisation, local authority and NHS partners providing public health advice and making sure measures are in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. Close workplace contacts have been identified and given self-isolation advice.
“Bernard Matthews is following national guidance and ensuring that anyone with symptoms self isolates for 10 days, and their household members isolate for 14 days. Close contacts of confirmed cases are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
“Employers have been asked to take certain measures to help reduce the spread of the virus, including ensuring staff can maintain 2 metre social distancing wherever possible, employees wash their hands more frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water and surfaces that may have been touched are cleaned regularly.”
Bernard Matthews has had extensive controls in place to manage and reduce Covid-19 infections since March 2020. These are continuing and include regular temperature checks, staff working in bubbles, COVID marshals, masks and visors and social distancing throughout the site.
A spokesperson for Bernard Matthews said:“We are grateful for the help of all local agencies and we fully support their objectives to protect the local community. We believe a 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.”
Most of these new cases are people who live in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas.
Everyone is therefore reminded of the importance of following government guidance around social distancing, washing hands and wearing face coverings.
Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health, said: “Norfolk’s Local Outbreak Control Service is aware of a Covid-19 outbreak in Suffolk and is taking follow up action with staff who live in Norfolk to offer them full support. Norfolk County Council has also offered support to Suffolk County Council through our local contact tracing service.”