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Banham Poultry update - 28 August 2020

28 August 2020

A total of 80 out of 376 workers at Banham Poultry in Attleborough have now tested positive for Covid-19 this week - an infection rate of about 22 per cent.

Thanks to the management at Banham Poultry and the NHS, testing was rapidly carried out of all the workers in the cutting room part of the factory and all those individuals have been asked to isolate at home with their households.

Norfolk's Director of Public Health, Dr Louise Smith said: "This means we have addressed the highest risk area of the factory and we now need to move on to focus on the lower risk groups to ensure we don’t have any emerging issues with them.

"So, precautionary testing, co-ordinated with the Banham Poultry management team, is now being extended to include all workers at the site. This means we are now seeking to test anyone who has worked at the Attleborough site since 1 August.

"If there are workers who are unable to access on site testing, further arrangements to allow them to access testing will be offered."

This new round of testing began this morning and is planned to continue into next week. There is currently no evidence of any wider spread of the disease beyond staff who worked in the cutting room area of the factory. The wider testing is being carried out as a preventative measure following specialist advice from Public Health England.

Norfolk’s Public Health team is now working with NHS Test and Trace to contact trace all contacts of the 350 staff currently isolating. We ask that anyone who is told they have a positive result contacts NHS Test and Trace to let them know who they have been in close contact with. If NHS Test and Trace contact you please participate.

We continue to work with Banham Poultry, continuously monitoring the outbreak and carefully assessing and reviewing the risks to ensure the most effective way of protecting the wider public. The factory remains open at this stage.

Dr Smith added: "I can also confirm, on the basis of test results received, that there is currently no outbreak at Bernard Matthews or any other Norfolk meat processing factory. However, we remain vigilant and ready to act if the information changes."

A county wide group with all of the local producers to discuss a shared industry view is being convened by the Local Enterprise Partnership and Breckland Council. Further updates on this will be available after the weekend

Dr Smith said: "I would like to remind the wider public, who understandably may well be feeling quite concerned about this outbreak, that there is no evidence of increased risk to the general public and the risk of infection from food products is very low."

Anyone with symptoms should book a test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk. Tests are free and anyone with symptoms is eligible. The symptoms are a continuous cough, high temperature and loss of taste or smell.

And finally as a general prevention message - continuing to wash your hands regularly and practising social distancing is the best way to protect yourself. If you feel unwell, even if your symptoms are mild, you should isolate with your household and get a test.

Support for workers isolating

Support is being stepped up to help workers and their households affected by the Banham Poultry outbreak to isolate in the community.

Norfolk Assistance Scheme has proactively contacted all Banham Poultry workers affected to ask them what help they need and provide contact numbers and other ways to access support.

These contacts have been made by email initially and will be followed up by phone and visits if required. We are keen to make sure all the Banham Poultry workers isolating have access to the information they need and fully understand how to isolate and how they can get help, so we are providing information in eight different languages for the proportion of the workforce that need this.

Support available includes: access to food and essential supplies; access to medications and prescriptions; emergency financial support; other support for those with no family or friends nearby to help.

Head of Paid Service at Norfolk County Council Tom McCabe said: “It is vital that people must isolate if they have been asked to do so.

“Isolating correctly disrupts the transmission of Covid-19 and is key to stopping the spread more widely in the community.

“But we know that may prove difficult for some in terms of finances, access to food and medicine and a range of other issues and we are now stepping up our plans together with our district partners to offer the best support we can.”

Anyone who has been asked to isolate should:

  • Stay at home and isolate from people outside of your household
  • If you tested positive for Covid-19 you must isolate for 10 days from your positive test result
  • If you have worked closely with someone who has tested positive you must isolate for 14 days
  • All members of your household must isolate for 14 days too
  • Children in your household must isolate for 14 days and must not attend school or any other childcare setting

Anyone requiring support to isolate can contact Norfolk Assistance Scheme on 01603 223392 and select Option 5. This line will be open until 5pm today and between 10am and 4pm Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

Further information about Norfolk Assistance Scheme can be found online at www.norfolk.gov.uk/coronavirus in the get support section.

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