Three food factories in England and Wales and now one in Germany have been closed after a cluster of Covid19 outbreaks, sparking concerns about a potential outbreak similar to those seen in France and the US where 25,000+ poultry workers are reported to have contracted Covid-19 with at least 91 deaths.
Confined working conditions and long periods spent by workers in close proximity – often 10 to 12 hours a shift – mean meat factories are at substantially heightened risk of spreading the coronavirus through human-to-human transmission.
At least 250 staff have tested positive in plants in West Yorkshire, Anglesey and Wrexham Three large food factories have closed in England and Wales after about 250 workers tested positive for coronavirus, as the Unite union said it was aware of suspected outbreaks at five other sites across the UK.
A meat processing site owned by Asda in West Yorkshire became the third food plant in 48 hours to confirm an outbreak after about 150 workers fell ill with the virus. The Kober plant, which supplies bacon to Asda supermarkets and employs more than 500 people, has closed until next week with a test-and-trace programme under way.
On Thursday the UK’s main supplier of supermarket chicken, 2 Sisters Food Group, said it was closing its Anglesey plant for 14 days after 58 people tested positive for coronavirus.
In Wrexham, 38 staff have tested positive at Rowan Foods, which makes food for supermarkets across the UK. Bosses said the cases reflected an increase in the local area rather than a spread within the site.
Meanwhile in northwestern Germany, the total number of people infected with the coronavirus at a slaughterhouse in northwestern Germany has risen to 1,029, up from over 600 earlier this week, according to officials – who insist that the wider community is not yet at risk. The outbreak at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück meat processing plant, in the district of Gütersloh near Bielefeld, was made public on June 17. The plant is run by Tönnies – the largest meat processing firm in Germany. The factory has been closed for 14 days following initial reports of the outbreak.