More than 170 staff have tested positive for coronavirus at a meat factory in Cornwall.

The outbreak has been confirmed at the Pigrim’s Pride food factory in Pool, near Redruth.

Most of the cases were asymptomatic, the local public health team said.

An alert to the national test and trace service from a single member of staff led to 500 colleagues at the plant being tested. 

The company says it has introduced additional measures and checks its compliance with Covid-19 controls on a daily basis, Cornwall Live reports.

A spokesperson for Pilgrim’s Pride added: “From the outset we have worked conscientiously to do all we can to protect our workforce and the local community.

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One person alerted the track and trace system, leasing to 500 staff members being tested
(Image: PA)

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“Our teams have been working extremely hard in collaboration with the local authority and public health to manage this challenging situation, and have bravely conducted themselves with professionalism and integrity as they continue to play their important role in maintaining the UK food supply chain.”

A spokesman said the council’s public health team along with Public Health England SW and the NHS have been working closely with Pilgrim’s Pride Ltd in order to take proactive action to reduce the likelihood of transmission in the local community.

The spokesman added: “The public health team provides an enhanced contract tracing service where they contact the individual identified to us by NHS Test and Trace and interview them about their recent activities. In this case the individual revealed to us that they worked at the factory, and so further investigations were carried out and testing procedures put in place.”

Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council, added: “This case demonstrates how the strategy of proactive testing is helping us to take action quickly to limit the spread of COVID in our communities. The council’s public health team review the situation daily and if any additional actions are needed the team stands ready to put them in place quickly.

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“Our key message to residents is that we all need to play our part in limiting the virus – by following the guidance and doing our bit to protect ourselves and each other.”

Rachel Wigglesworth, interim director for public health for Cornwall Council, said: “Our team has been working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic, and have strengthened our local COVID-19 contact tracing approach to help detect cases early, prevent spread and support people to self-isolate.

“We’ve quickly identified and tested hundreds of people, and in finding people who weren’t displaying symptoms we have potentially stopped much wider spread in our communities. We continue to closely monitor the situation and appreciate the cooperation of Pilgrim’s Pride Ltd. and their employees.

“It’s really important that everyone, no matter where they live Cornwall, follows the government guidance of good hand hygiene, wearing of face masks in enclosed public spaces, keeping two metres apart, and not gathering in groups of more than six people, to help us stop the spread of the virus.

“If anyone does develop symptoms, which include a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change to their sense of taste or smell, they should self-isolate straight away and book a test. Please stay at home until you receive the results. If they are positive, please make sure you isolate for 10 days, and close contacts or people you live with should isolate for 14 days.”

Coronavirus cases in the South West remain relatively low, despite spikes in other parts of the country.

In the seven days up to September 27, there was an infection rate of 31.5 per 100,000 people in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, with 180 positive cases.

We’ll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story.

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