- 200 workers at A S Green And Co are being asked to self-isolate on the site in Mathon, near Malvern
- Mass testing was carried out after some workers showed symptoms of the bug
- Visitors and management team members were also tested, which were negative
200 workers at a vegetable farm in Herefordshire are forced to isolate in onsite mobile homes after 73 workers tested positive for coronavirus.
Workers at A S Green And Co were tested carried out after some workers showed symptoms of the bug.
No workers at the site in Mathon, near Malvern, are being permitted to leave and are receiving the required support on the site.
The farm supplies vegetables to Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and M&S.
Visitors and management team members were also tested and the company confirmed all results to date outside of their site have been negative.
The site is still waiting on all the results but 73 positive cases are confirmed so far.
Workers live onsite in mobile homes which all have toilets, showers and kitchen facilities and participants share the accommodation.
In a statement posted on its website, the company said: ‘We confirm that we are working closely with, Public Health England and the Public Health team at Herefordshire Council to support a number of our workers that have tested positive for COVID-19.
‘As a precautionary measure we have arranged for testing of additional key workers including management team members and visitors connected with A S Green and can confirm all results to date outside of our site have been returned with negative results. To date there are 73 positive cases on our site.
‘Our site is currently closed for all visitors and with the assistance of the various bodies no workers are being permitted to leave our site and are receiving the required support at our site.
‘Our work force and local community are our priority at this difficult time and we continue to follow the guidance of the relevant bodies to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled and our workforce is supported.
‘Public Health England advises that it is very unlikely Covid-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, so shoppers can remain confident buying British fruit and veg.’
Katie Spence, PHE Midlands Health Protection Director, said: ‘We are working closely with the management at AS Green and Co to support the health and wellbeing of their workforce and wider public health.
‘At this phase of the pandemic, we still expect to see cases in the community and within settings where people are closer together, such as workplaces, which is why the Test and Trace system is important, to help us pick up on any potential problems and swiftly to take remedial action to reduce spread.’
‘To support this workforce of around 200 key workers, the company has put in place a range of infection control measures to try to reduce the risk of staff being exposed to COVID-19.
‘Measures include supporting testing on site, promoting social distancing in communal social areas and in the indoor packaging area; providing PPE for staff where applicable, encouraging regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and promoting the use of face coverings in closed areas.’
‘Despite these measures, a small number of workers became symptomatic earlier this week and they and a few close contacts among the workforce were tested initially and found to be positive.
‘In line with NHS guidance, affected individuals were asked to self-isolate for 7 days, with their households and close contacts asked to isolate for 14 days.’
‘As we have seen a global trend of large food producers being subject to outbreaks, as a precautionary measure, the decision was made to test the entire workforce.
‘The initial batch of results showed a significant percentage of positive cases, despite these individuals being asymptomatic.
‘We are still awaiting a few final results, but currently we have 73 positive cases of COVID-19 among the workforce.’
‘PHE Midlands and Herefordshire Council are therefore working with AS Green and Co to closely monitor and manage the outbreak and support individual workers.’
A spokesperson for AS Green said: ‘Our staff are our priority, they are hard-working key workers helping us provide food for the country during these unusual times.
‘We contacted PHE and we are working closely with them and Public Health at Herefordshire Council to prevent the spread of COVID-19.’
Karen Wright, Director of Public Health for Herefordshire, said: ‘While Herefordshire is the first to experience an outbreak of this kind, this is not unexpected.
‘Our priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of all residents in our community. Prompt testing on the farm has allowed us to understand transmission and control the spread of infection.
‘We continue to support the farm management, their workers – who form an important part of our local economy, and the local community through this challenging time.
‘Anyone who has a fever, persistent dry cough, or loss or change in their sense of taste or smell should call 119 or go online to arrange a test.’
The outbreak comes after lockdown was extended for at least two weeks in Leicester, east midlands, after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Number 10’s scientific advisers revealed on July 10 that the UK’s R rate is between 0.7 and 0.9.
The R rate represents the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects and SAGE admitted it could be one or higher in London, the Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire, the South East and the South West.
A S Green And Co specialise in growing runner beans, Tenderstem broccoli, broad beans and helda beans.