COUNTY health chiefs have swung into action after 14 workers at Evesham Vale Growers tested positive for Coronavirus.
The COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed by Worcestershire County Council within the last hour and health chiefs have confirmed all staff at the Blackminster site will now be tested and advised to isolate, when not in work.
Around 340 key workers are employed to carry out packing work vital to the UK food supply chain and local economy.
Dr Adrian Phillips, consultant in Communicable Disease Control with Public Health England (PHE) Midlands, said:
“We are working closely with the local authority and the management at Evesham Vale Growers Limited to support the health and well-being of the workforce and wider public health.
“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 340 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 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.
“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.”
Dr Kathryn Cobain, director for Public Health for Worcestershire, said: “Our priority is to protect the health and well-being of all residents in our community.
“The food produced on the site is unaffected by the outbreak and remains safe to eat. 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.”
A spokesperson for Evesham Vale Growers said: “Our staff are our priority, they are hard-working key workers helping us provide food for the country.
“The site has a multitude of preventative measures in place for our workers, including screens, hand washing facilities, extra cleaning and protocols for workers coming and going on the site.