Nearly 300 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after an outbreak at a sandwich factory in Northampton.
A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire County Council said 79 people returned positive NHS tests and a further 213 tested positive through Greencore’s private testing.
The company took the decision to proactively test workers as a result of a rise in cases in the town.
In a statement, Greencore said: “As a result of the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the Northampton area, we took the decision to start proactively testing all of the colleagues at our Northampton site.
“We can confirm that a number of colleagues have tested positive for the virus and are now self-isolating.
“We are liaising closely with PHE East Midlands, Northamptonshire County Council and Northampton Borough Council, who are fully supportive of the controls that we have on site.”
The company added: “In each case we have immediately conducted contact tracing and instructed potentially affected colleagues to self-isolate.
“All of Greencore’s sites have wide-ranging social distancing measures, stringent hygiene procedures and regular temperature checking in place, and we are doing everything that we can to keep our people safe.
“As ever, the health and wellbeing of our colleagues is our number one priority.”
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Lucy Wightman, director of public health at Northamptonshire County Council, said employees have been asked to “act now” after the number of confirmed cases in the town increased from 66 in the week ending 2 August to 85 for the week ending 9 August.
She said: “We are working with colleagues at Greencore in Northampton after the discovery of an outbreak of Covid-19 in the workplace.
“Public Health England Midlands have been providing support to colleagues at Greencore in managing the outbreak.
“This has been supplemented by support from the local infection prevention and control team and Northampton Borough Council’s environmental health colleagues.”
She added: “It is evident that Greencore has highly effective measures in place and they continue to work extremely hard to exceed the requirements needed to be Covid-19 secure within the workplace.
“Northampton borough has been experiencing a high number of cases over the last four weeks and residents and employees have been asked to ‘act now’ to follow additional measures, to avoid a local lockdown or further government intervention.”
Similarly, a fruit distribution centre for Fyffes in Coventry saw several employees test positive for Covid-19.
There were 85 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northampton at the end of last week, up 18 on the previous week.
At the Fyffes site in Coventry, all 186 workers will be tested as a “precaution”, though the factory will not be forced to close, the city council said.
“Fyffes have been open and cooperative with us and have followed our advice and guidance in how to deal with this unfortunate situation,” said Liz Gaulton, director of public health at Coventry City Council.
“The measures that have been implemented mean we are happy for the business to continue to open as normal at this time.”
Fyffes is one of the world’s largest fruit suppliers and the Coventry site once boasted of being the biggest banana ripening factory in Europe.
A spokesperson for the company said: ”The safety of all our workers is our number one priority and a number of actions to tackle this outbreak have been agreed and are currently being implemented.”
Coventry saw another local outbreak earlier this month, when nine workers tested positive at the Tesco Extra in the Arena Park Shopping Centre on the outskirts of the city on 4 August.
As of Thursday, there have been 57 confirmed cases in Coventry in the past seven days at a rate of 15.34 per 100,000, almost double the rate of neighbouring Solihull (8.32) and four times that of Warwickshire (4.67), the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
Additional reporting by Press Association