The employees tested positive or COVID-19 following a fresh batch of tests carried out on 100 members of staff on Monday (22 June). All three, as well as any employees who were in contact with them, are now self-isolating in line with Government guidelines.
Tulip has worked alongside health authorities and Sandwell Council to reduce the risk of transmission at the plant, on top of measures already in place.
Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s director of public health, said: “We have now proactively tested 104 staff at Tulip Ltd for coronavirus and have had three positive cases. Tulip has also asked a further 16 employees to isolate at home as a precautionary measure.
“The site has had a number of cases since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK and are able to report that they have all returned to work safely. We will be conducting further testing across the workforce in the coming days so that we can identify and isolate any further positive cases.”
The company has actively encouraged its employees to report COVID-19 symptoms to ensure that individuals with infection are appropriately isolated and tested to reduce the risk of infection to co-workers and the wider community.
A spokesman for Tulip added: “Our team members at Tipton are key workers who have responded to this global pandemic in the most challenging of circumstances – their health and wellbeing is of the utmost importance and we welcome the support of health authorities.
Preventing the spread
“We continue to work in partnership with health authorities to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 among our workforce, at work and in the community, as we provide food for the country during these unprecedented times.”
The new cases of the virus follow a flurry of reports of coronavirus clusters at meat processing sites across the UK in the past month.
2 Sisters Foods Group has reported at 200 cases of COVID-19 at its site in Llangefni, Wales, while supermarket giant Asda shut down operations at a Kirklees meat processing site after employees tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, a leading union has said that downgrading the two-metre social distancing rule risks “more outbreaks” of coronavirus for the meat industry.
‘Unfair portrayal’ of meat plants
However, the British Poultry Council has criticised ‘unfair portrayal’ of meat plants as ‘virus epicentres’. “Some of the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in meat plants clearly demonstrate that no amount of preparation and vigilance can guarantee complete protection against COVID-19. Also, it’s important to understand that every business is limited to what it can control outside the workplace.
“Unfair portrayal of meat processing sites as virus epicentres is unacceptable and we look forward to working closely with the Government to help eradicate these negative stereotypes and raise awareness about the steps taken by the poultry meat industry to protect our people.”
He stressed poultry processing firms had done all they could to follow Government COVID-19 guidelines, including imposing social distancing, using personal protective equipment and implementing test and trace systems.