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Cranswick factory to stay open as number of positive cases rises to 188

PUBLISHED: 09:27 30 October 2020

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman says a decision has been made to keep Watton factory Cranswick Country Foods open following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman says a decision has been made to keep Watton factory Cranswick Country Foods open following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The factory at the centre of the county’s largest single coronavirus outbreak is to remain open.

Coronavirus outbreak at Cranswick factory in Watton. Pictures: ARCHANT Coronavirus outbreak at Cranswick factory in Watton. Pictures: ARCHANT

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said Cranswick Country Foods in Watton would continue to operate with a “skeleton staff”.

The number of employees from the plant to have tested positive now stands at 188, with 425 testing negative.

Results from another 411 tests are set to be returned in the coming days.

Despite calls from some for Cranswick to close, Mr Freeman revealed a decision to keep the factory open had been made based on its contribution to the national food chain.

Around 20pc of all pork products in the country go through the Watton plant.

Mr Freeman said: “The decision is of huge national significance and has been called in to be taken by ministers in the London, the secretaries of state.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian BurtMid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

“They’ve decided to try and keep the plant open to avoid disruption to the national food supply chain, but to do so with a minimum skeleton staff and to make sure all those who have tested positive are properly isolated, and that there is testing made available in the town to make sure we can keep control of the outbreak.”

As public health officials battle to prevent the outbreak from spreading further afield, Mr Freeman highlighted the urgent need for testing that can keep up with an escalating second wave.

“This has also exposed that our testing infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the pace of the testing that this autumn surge is requiring,” he added.

There has been a coronavirus outbreak at the Cranswick factory in Watton. Picture: ArchantThere has been a coronavirus outbreak at the Cranswick factory in Watton. Picture: Archant

“The numbers suggest that if we can get proper track and trace of those who have tested positive, and we can isolate them, we may be able to keep the plant going and keep the community safe.”

Mobile stations remain in place in Watton for the town’s population to obtain Covid-19 tests.


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