175 workers test positive for Covid-19 at meat factory

A further 35 workers have tested positive for Covid-19 at a Norfolk meat factory, bringing the total to 175.

Dr Louise Smith, the county’s director of public health, said that 185 negative tests have also been returned at Cranswick Country Foods in Watton.

A mobile testing unit is at the site, which makes pork products, and Dr Smith said she anticipates hundreds more test results to be confirmed and validated within 24 hours.

Most positive cases have been in the butchery section, Dr Smith said, and her advice for individuals working there is to self-isolate for 14 days.

The plant remains open.

Dr Smith told a press conference on Thursday: “We have offered advice to the factory that the public health advice from both my local specialists and Public Health England is that the butchery section of the factory is a high prevalence and high risk area and that the normal management practice would be to ask all staff who have been working in a high prevalence area to self-isolate for 14 days.”

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Environment Secretary George Eustice to request a “fast decision” on whether the plant needs to close.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, told the press conference that he supports Mr Freeman’s approach.

“We can’t be left in a limbo situation where there’s no decision,” said Mr Proctor.

Cranswick Country Foods has been approached for comment