Three meat factories supplying UK supermarkets have closed due to coronavirus outbreaks

Asda has shut down the factory in Yorkshire while the outbreak is being dealt with (Photo: Shutterstock)Asda has shut down the factory in Yorkshire while the outbreak is being dealt with (Photo: Shutterstock)
Asda has shut down the factory in Yorkshire while the outbreak is being dealt with (Photo: Shutterstock)

Outbreaks of coronavirus have been confirmed at three meat factories that supply products to major supermarkets, including Asda.

Kober Ltd near Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire, which is owned by Asda and provides the supermarket with bacon rashers and joints, has confirmed an outbreak of Covid-19.

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Mobile testing tents have now been set up outside the factory.

Further outbreaks were confirmed at food processing sites in Anglesey and Wrexham in North Wales, which also supply to supermarkets, along with fast food outlets KFC, Greggs and Subway.

Staff in self-isolation

Asda has shut down the factory in Yorkshire while the outbreak is being dealt with, and it is expected to reopen again next week.

Staff that are currently self-isolating as a result of the outbreak will receive full pay while they are away from work.

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It is not currently known how many staff tested positive for coronavirus, or if there have been any hospitalisations or deaths as a result.

Around 100 contacts of workers have since been traced after a 'small number' of cases.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced the outbreak at a Downing Street briefing on Friday (19 June) during a discussion on the 'track and trace' system of local lockdowns. However, he did not specify where it was or give the name of the business.

In April, a Twitter user shared a photo of workers at the plant during a shift change, which showed groups congregating near parked cars appearing to be less than two metres apart.

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What’s happening at the other factories?

Staff at a chicken processing plant in North Wales have been forced to self-isolate for 14 days following an outbreak of 58 cases of coronavirus.

The 2 Sisters factory in Llangefni, Anglesey, halted production on Thursday (18 June) after the outbreak was declared, while in Wrexham in North Wales, 38 staff at the Rowan Foods factory have tested positive for the virus.

However, bosses said the cases reflected an increase in the locality, rather than a spread within the site itself. The first positive reported case at the plant was confirmed on 28 May.

Production at the factory is now being transferred to other company locations until 2 July.

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Did the council in Yorkshire act quickly enough?

Directors of public health said they were in the dark about what a local lockdown actually was, and whether they had the power to enact it.

However, Mr Hancock said: “The system is already up and running. In fact, I chaired a meeting this morning of our local action committee, which is the formal process through which we make these decisions, working with local leaders, for instance, in Kirklees.

“And the local director of public health and the council are heavily involved in the response.”

But Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin criticised the way in which Mr Hancock had revealed the outbreak, which she said was “thoughtless, sloppy and unhelpful”.

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She said: “My anger is the way we were thrown to the wolves in that way.”

But she added: “No one in Kirklees should be concerned. Having spoken to the council they’ve acted very swiftly, I’m proud of them but I’m really frustrated Matt Hancock took it on himself to announce it like that.”

Director of public health at Kirklees Council, Rachel Spencer-Henshall, said: “We were made aware of a number of positive cases of COVID-19 at a workplace in Kirklees. We have been providing support and advice to both the management and employees in order to minimise any further transmission.”

Kober is the second Yorkshire meat factory to confirm a coronavirus outbreak. Cranswick Convenience Foods in Wombwell, Barnsley, which also processes bacon, had nine confirmed cases in the spring. Three workers died and all but two were hospitalised.

This article originally appeared on the Yorkshire Evening Post.