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Meat factory coronavirus outbreak cases rise to 248

PUBLISHED: 18:47 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:57 31 October 2020

Cranswick Country Foods meat processing plant in Watton where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

Cranswick Country Foods meat processing plant in Watton where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

The number of workers with coronavirus at Cranswick Country Foods in Watton has risen to 248.

Cranswick Country Foods meat processing plant in Watton where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Sam Russell/PA WireCranswick Country Foods meat processing plant in Watton where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

All 1,416 workers at the Norfolk meat factory are being swabbed and mobile testing units have been set up in Watton as public health officials battle to prevent the outbreak from spreading further afield.

The outbreak is centred on the factory’s butchery where more than half of workers have tested positive.

MORE: Surging new Covid cases push Breckland and Yarmouth to record high

Despite calls from some for Cranswick to close, the factory remains open and is operating with a “skeleton staff”.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said the decision to keep the factory open had been made based on its contribution to the national food chain. Picture: ArchantMid Norfolk MP George Freeman said the decision to keep the factory open had been made based on its contribution to the national food chain. Picture: Archant

Only the government, through health secretary Matt Hancock has the power to order it to shut to contain the outbreak.

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said the 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: “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.”

The latest figures, released on Friday, reveal out of 767 workers tested so far 248 have proved to be positive for Covid-19, with 519 negative, an infection rate of 32.3pc.

The butchery section of the factory recorded 112 positives, a rate 53pc being positive.

Cranswick Country Foods meat processing plant in Watton where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Sam Russell/PA WireCranswick Country Foods meat processing plant in Watton where there has been a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

MORE: Coronavirus cases confirmed at Norwich and Great Yarmouth food factories

Norfolk County Council is working with Public Health England and Cranswick Foods to tackle the outbreak.

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

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.

“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.”


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