Greencore confirmed that 79 workers had tested positive for COVID-19 through NHS tests, while a further 213 positive results came back through a private testing program introduced by the company.
Commenting on the rise of coronavirus cases at the factory, a spokesman for Greencore said: “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."
“In each case we have immediately conducted contact tracing and instructed potentially affected colleagues to self-isolate.”
The spokesman pointed out the “wide-ranging measures” in place at the factory to help prevent the spread of the virus, from social distancing measures and stringent hygiene measures, to regular temperature checking.
“We are doing everything that we can to keep our people safe,” continued the spokesman. “As ever, the health and well-being of our colleagues is our number one priority.”
Northamptonshire County Council director of public health Lucy Wightman said the council had been working with Greencore and Public Health England Midlands to manage the outbreak.
“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,” said Wightman.
The outbreak at Greencore Northampton followed a high number of cases of coronavirus in the local area over the past four weeks.
Risk of additional lockdown measures
Wightman added: “Residents and employees have been asked to ‘act now’ to follow additional measures, to avoid a local lockdown or further Government intervention.
“The guidance in the workplace is just as important as outside of work. If individuals do not take responsibility for following the guidance that we have issued, then further intervention and a possible local lockdown will follow.”
This confirmation of COVID-19 cases comes just over a week since the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) launched a campaign against Greencore for what it deemed unfair employment practices.
BFAWU members disputed the company’s use of agency workers at the Northampton site, seemingly passing over staff that had been furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic continues to inspire food firms to maintain and launch aid initiatives to support the vulnerable and their peers, with new projects launched by FareShare, Young’s Seafood and Hovis – to name just a few.