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Precautionary Testing underway at Bernard Matthews site

16 October 2020

Precautionary testing for Covid 19 is under way at the Bernard Matthews site in Great Witchingham, Norfolk, after several members of staff tested positive for the virus.

The testing of approximately 1000 staff at the site has begun and will continue into early next week.

There have been a number of cases among staff at the site in Great Witchingham, although at this point there is not evidence to suggest transmission of the virus at the site. It is anticipated that this measure will identify if there are any asymptomatic staff who are currently showing no signs of Covid 19.

Following government guidance, any staff member who tests positive will be advised to self-isolate, along with their households. Norfolk’s Outbreak Management Team and partners are working closely with Bernard Matthews to take measures to reduce transmission in order to protect both staff and the public.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s Director of Public Health, said: “Our top priority is to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which will help to protect the staff at Bernard Matthews and the public. This testing is a sensible, precautionary measure that will help us understand who at the site has COVID-19 and who else they may have been in contact with.

“While there is currently no evidence to suggest widespread transmission at the Great Witchingham site, we know that testing can help to understand and contain the spread of the virus. We would remind everyone across Norfolk, to continue to act responsibly, respect the Rule of Six and follow the government’s guidance. We must all continue to wash our hands, wear face coverings when required to and observe social distancing – hands, face and space – to have the best chance of keeping the virus under control.”

A spokesman for Bernard Matthews said: “We can confirm a small number of positive cases at our site at Great Witchingham. These colleagues and their contacts are now self-isolating at home, and we will continue to work closely with public health officials to monitor the situation. There is no evidence these transmissions occurred in the factory. Food production and safety remain unaffected.”

Rebecca Hams, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health England East, said: “Testing and tracing is one of the key steps in identifying and containing the spread of COVID-19 and staff at the factory are being tested as a precautionary measure. Mass testing in this way will help to protect staff and the community, by allowing us to identify people who are carrying the virus but who may not have developed symptoms.”

If anyone does develop symptoms, which include a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change to their sense of taste or smell, they should self-isolate straight away and arrange a COVID-19 test.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate immediately and apply for a test. Testing is free and easy - find out more about Coronavirus testing.

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