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    Haribo is latest food firm hit by Covid crisis with 30 staff testing positive

    Haribo is latest food firm hit by Covid crisis with 30 staff testing positive – as 350 factory workers are now in self-isolation after outbreaks at Nestlé, Cranswick and two Bernard Matthews sites in space of two weeks

    • Haribo confirmed an outbreak of 30 Covid cases at its factory in West Yorkshire
    • Norfolk County Council said there had been a ‘significant outbreak’ of Covid-19 
    • Coronavirus outbreak also hit Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton, Norfolk 
    • Another 29 people have tested positive for Covid at a Nestlé factory in Fawdon

    Haribo has today confirmed an outbreak of 30 Covid cases at its factory in West Yorkshire.

    The employees at the sweet company’s distribution centre and factory in Front Street, Pontefract have tested positive for the virus and are now self-isolating. 

    Haribo said strict health and safety measures are in place at the site and insisted the company had gone ‘above and beyond’ Government guidance. 

    The German-owned firm employs 732 people at its sites in Castleford and Pontefract. 

    This comes in the wake of a spate of coronavirus outbreaks across the UK which have hit giants including Bernard Matthews, Nestlé, Jammy Dodgers and Wagon Wheels.

    Around 350 workers at food processing factories across the UK have now tested positive for coronavirus in less than a fortnight.  

    The employees at the sweet company’s distribution centre and factory in Front Street, Pontefract (pictured) have tested positive for the virus and are now self-isolating

    There has been a 'significant outbreak' of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton (pictured)

    There has been a ‘significant outbreak’ of Covid-19 at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton (pictured)

    Some 29 people have tested positive at the Nestlé factory in Fawdon, Newcastle upon Tyne

    Some 29 people have tested positive at the Nestlé factory in Fawdon, Newcastle upon Tyne

    There has been a spate of outbreaks in less than two weeks, with two in the Norfolk area

    This map shows the number of positive Covid-19 cases in the Watton area in the seven days to October 21 - the most recent data, before the outbreak

    This map shows the number of positive Covid-19 cases in the Watton area in the seven days to October 21 – the most recent data, before the outbreak 

    Chilled and damp interior with ultraviolet light: Why meat plants are a hotbed for coronavirus outbreaks

    The virus thrives in cold, damp and indoor environments, particularly on cool surfaces.

    The lack of a breeze or ultraviolet light from the sun means the moisture remains and can’t be killed off inside food processing plants.

    Furthermore, social distancing is particularly difficult in workplaces with a busy production line meaning the virus is likely to spread more easily.

    Loud machinery also forces people to raise their voices and researchers say situations where people have to shout result in an increased risk of projecting the virus to others.

    It’s not just in the UK where a trend has been seen, either, after hundreds tested positive in a Berlin slaughterhouse, while a wet market in Wuhan is believed to have been at the heart of a huge number of infections early on in the crisis.  

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    There has been a spate of coronavirus outbreaks at factories across the UK in less than two weeks, including:

    • 30 staff members have tested positive at the Haribo factory in Pontefract; 
    • Around 140 people tested positive for the virus at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton;
    • A further 29 people tested positive at a Nestlé factory in Fawdon, Newcastle upon Tyne;
    • Some 75 workers at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk, tested positive; 
    • There have so far been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews’ food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth 

    On Tuesday it was confirmed around 140 people had tested positive for the virus amid a ‘significant outbreak’ at the Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton.

    It was also revealed that 29 people had tested positive at a Nestlé factory in Fawdon, Newcastle upon Tyne, which houses around 600 workers. 

    Some 75 workers at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month. 

    As of October 15 there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews’ food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth, Suffolk County Council said. 

    Last week, a biscuit factory where Jammy Dodgers and Wagon Wheels are made was hit by an outbreak of Covid-19, with four staff testing positive for the virus.

    Burton’s Biscuits in Edinburgh said four workers had been told to go home and self-isolate after receiving positive test results on October 23 

    Nestlé confirmed the staff had tested positive since October 16 – around five per cent of all employees.     

    As of October 15 there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews' food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth

    As of October 15 there had also been 72 positive cases at Bernard Matthews’ food processing facility in Holton near Halesworth 

    Some 75 workers also tested positive at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk

    Some 75 workers also tested positive at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham, Norfolk 

    HOW UK’S OUTBREAK HAS SLOWED DOWN

     

    Britain’s coronavirus outbreak has slowed significantly since the start of the month, suggesting the latest suite of lockdown restrictions are successfully flattening the second curve of the outbreak.   

    Infections were almost doubling every seven-to-eight days in September, which sparked widespread fears the country had sleep-walked into a second wave following a lull in transmission over summer when the national lockdown was lifted.   

    But analysis of official data by MailOnline shows weekly Covid-19 cases across the entire UK are currently rising by just 14 per cent, with an average 18,465 cases per day.  

    Public Health England figures show the seven-day rolling average number of daily cases jumped from 3,676 in the week ending September 18 to 6,301 by September 25 (71 per cent). It rose by a similar rate the following week, climbing to 10,470 by September 29.

    But, between October 9 and October 16 – the most recent snapshot – the rolling seven-day average number of cases only crept up by 14 per cent, from 16,196 to 18,465. For comparison, infections grew by 26.6 per cent the week prior. It suggests the rate at which infections are increasing is halving every week. 

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    More than 300 members of staff at Cranswick Country Foods have been tested.

    Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said the local authority was working with the Joint Biosecurity Centre to urge people in the Watton area to get tested if they have symptoms, amid the ‘significant outbreak.’ 

    The local authority said testing at the Bernard Matthews turkey plant in Great Witchingham began on October 15, with more than 600 members of staff tested. 

    In Suffolk, Bernard Matthews brought in Covid-19 bus marshals on its free staff transport as part of its response to the outbreak.

    Food production at the processing facility has not been affected by the Covid outbreak.

    The site has had controls in place since March to reduce coronavirus infections, including regular temperature checks, staff working in bubbles, Covid marshals, masks and visors and social distancing.

    The majority of the 18 workers who tested positive live in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas and the cases are believed to have been caught in the community.

    Officials including from Suffolk County Council, Public Health England and Bernard Matthews are working together to manage the situation.

    Earlier this month ten cases were linked to a Scunthorpe factory where employees claimed they were told not to wear masks because they are food hazards.

    The Karro Food Group pork processing plant, one of the country’s largest food producers, was criticised by employees for its coronavirus measures. 

    One employee at the factory, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘Staff are dropping like flies and being sent home. There’s around ten confirmed cases now.’

    And Banham Poultry in Attleborough, which accounts for 7 per cent of UK chicken processing, closed its cutting room for two weeks from August 27 following an outbreak of the virus.

    The shutdown cost the business around £2million a week, while factory owners had to cull 380,000 birds – a total stock loss of nearly £4million.

    It has since reopened with additional safety measures, including five disinfectant machines at entrances to its factories and offices.

    Food factories ravaged by Covid outbreaks

    • October 29: Haribo factory in Pontefract, West Yorkshire 
    • October 27: Nestlé factory in Fawdon, Newcastle upon Tyne 
    • October 26: Cranswick Country Foods site in Watton, Norfolk
    • October 23: Burton’s Biscuits factory in Edinburgh 
    • October 22: Bernard Matthews turkey plant, Great Witchingham, Norfolk
    • October 6: Karro Food Group pork processing plant in Scunthorpe 
    • September 30: Pilgrim’s Pride food factory in Pool, near Redruth, Cornwall
    • September 29: Bernard Matthews turkey plant, Holton, near Halesworth in Suffolk
    • September 23: Greggs factory in Newcastle 
    • September 11: Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire pudding factory in Hull
    • September 2: Millers of Speyside in Scottish Highlands
    • August 26: Food Standard’s Authority reveal there are at least 40 active outbreaks at factories in the UK 
    • August 22: Banham Poultry in Attleborough, Norfolk
    • August 21: Greencore in Northampton
    • August 20: Cranswick in Ballymena, Northern Ireland
    • August 18: Bakkavor in Newark
    • August 17: 2 Sisters Food Group in Coupar Angus, Tayside
    • August 17: Fyffes in Coventry, West Midlands
    • August 13: Greencore in Northampton
    • July 12: AS Green and Co, Herefordshire
    • July 3: Walkers, Leicester
    • June 26: Tulip, Tipton  
    • June 24: Kepak Food Group in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales 
    • June 23: Princes, Wisebech
    • June 19: Asda, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire
    • June 19: Rowan Foods in Wrexham, Wales 
    • June 17: 2 Sisters food factory in Anglesey, North Wales
    • May 15: Cranswick, Barnsley
    • May 11: Moy Park in Dungannon, Northern Ireland
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