Coronavirus: 2 Sisters, Rowan Foods and Kepak Merthyr clusters update

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Welsh meat plans have seen clusters of the Coronavirus
Welsh meat plans have seen clusters of the Coronavirus

Related tags: coronavirus

Public Health Wales officials have issued an update on the ongoing coronavirus cases at the Welsh factories of 2 Sisters, Rowan Foods and Kepak Merthyr.

Welsh meat plants had been heavily hit by the impact of coronavirus. 

2 Sisters saw a cluster of over 200 confirmed coronavirus cases​ at the chicken plant in Llangefni, Wales, following a rapid screening exercise. 

It temporarily closed the site for 14 days following the confirmation of a cluster of coronavirus cases​. The coronavirus-hit poultry processing site reopened on 3 July​, after being given the go-ahead from local safety bodies. 

Rowan Foods in Wrexham originally had 38 cases at its plant which has now been confirmed at 289​. 

There were also other cases identified in food factories including Princes in Wisbech​, Cambridgeshire. 

Trade union Unite recently said it had received reports of more suspected coronavirus outbreaks​ at meat processing factories. The organisation told Food Manufacture ​that, while the outbreaks were not confirmed, concerns had been raised at more than five sites.

‘Consistently positive’

Meanwhile, Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said that the news from Llangefni and the outbreak associated with the 2 Sisters meat processing plant had been “consistently positive”​ for a number of days. 

“As the employer resumes operations at the plant, the multi-agency Outbreak Control Team has been reassured by the rigour and robust processes the 2 Sisters management and workforce have put in place to create a safe working environment,”​ he said. 

“We are heartened by the positive response from the workforce and the wider communities of Anglesey and Gwynedd. Their support for the testing, contact-tracing and isolation phase of our response has helped bring the outbreak rapidly under control.”

Shankar said 2 Sisters Food Group had confirmed that any untested members of its workforce would not be allowed to return to work at the plant until they had completed a coronavirus test.

No evidence of factory outbreak

The Rowan Foods cluster in Wrexham has now hit 289 cases. 

Shankar said: “There continues to be no evidence that this outbreak is factory-based, and the results we have identified are what we would expect to see when a focused testing takes place.”

Cases of coronavirus at the Kepak Merthyr outbreak have now hit 135 since April, Public Health Wales has confirmed. 

“Following the Incident Management Team meeting on Friday 3 July, the total number of positive cases identified at the Kepak Merthyr meat processing plant is 135 since April,”​ Shankar said. 

“Focused testing as part of the management of clusters and outbreaks of coronavirus will inevitably identify new cases, but this does not mean that there has been a significant increase in the level of infection in the community. If we look at other data, such as hospital admissions or bio surveillance indicators, there is no evidence of a big surge of infections in the wider community in Merthyr.”

While he said it was too early to draw “precise conclusions”, ​the monitoring showed a historic correlation between levels of infection in the plant and previous background levels of infection in the wider community. There was no evidence to suggest any ongoing transmission in the plant, he said. 

Related topics: COVID-19

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