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How teams are working to prevent Banham-style Covid outbreak in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 12:32 11 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:33 11 September 2020

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, had a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Banham Poultry in Attleborough, had a Covid-19 outbreak. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A task group has been formed to work with food processing plants across Suffolk to prevent coronavirus outbreaks similar to that seen at Banham Poultry.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk said a dedicated team was working with the county's food processing plants. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILStuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk said a dedicated team was working with the county's food processing plants. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

A total of 127 staff members out of 735 have tested positive at the meat processing plant since the start of the outbreak there, which is among a number nationally to have seen Covid-19 cases arise.

It prompted Suffolk’s public health team to establish a dedicated task force to work with high-risk places, with meat and food factories among those on the priority list.

During a meeting of Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board this week, public health director Stuart Keeble said: “We have seen a number of incidents in meat processing plants across the country.

“What we have done is come together with Environmental Health and Trading Standards, and have brought a group together to look at high risk work settings.

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“The Food Standards Agency and Health and Safety Executive are actually the leading enforcement agencies, we have still taken an approach of making contact with them [food processing plants], sending advice to the 48 other meat processing plants and the 68 food processing and farming food production sites.

“We have also done follow-up checks as well just to check to see how they are implementing the Covid controls.

“We are also going to be working with the Health and Safety Executive to do more spot checks and where issues are raised we will work jointly with them.”

The Banham Poultry outbreak is being managed by Norfolk County Council’s public health team, but Suffolk’s equivalents recognised that some of the staff at the Attleborough plant live in Suffolk.

Mr Keeble said: “We have looked at that situation and worked out how we can best prevent any spread within Suffolk and also support those individuals.

“We were informed about this one weekend and it enabled us to test out our contact tracing functions, contacting all the individuals offering wraparound support.

“Where we couldn’t get in touch with people we worked with district and borough colleagues knocking on people’s doors, socially distanced, and arranging for a telephone call with our contact tracers.”


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