Farm in lockdown after coronavirus outbreak

About 200 employees remain in isolation on a Herefordshire farm following an outbreak of coronavirus among the workforce.

Vegetable producers AS Green and Co, based in Mathon, near Malvern, employ seasonal workers to carry out picking and packing work during peak times.

See also: Coronavirus – advice for managing and keeping staff safe

Some 73 employees were confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19 on Sunday (12 July).

A spokesperson for AS Green said: “Our staff are our priority; they are hardworking key workers helping us provide food for the country during these unusual times.

“We contacted Public Health England and we are working closely with them and Public Health at Herefordshire Council to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

Precaution

During the harvesting season, the workforce resides in mobile homes based on the farm. As a precaution, the whole group is being treated as one extended bubble.

Workers are being asked to remain on the farm during the isolation period and stay within household groups, to reduce the risk of spread within the workforce and into the wider community. 

In a statement on its website, the farm said testing had been arranged for additional key workers – including management team members and visitors connected with the farm.

To date, it said there had been 73 positive cases of Covid-19 on the site, but all test results on people outside of the site had been returned negative. 

“Our site is currently closed for all visitors and with the assistance of the various bodies no workers are being permitted to leave our site and are receiving the required support at our site.

“Our workforce and local community are our priority at this difficult time.

Guidance

“We continue to follow the guidance of the relevant bodies to ensure that the spread of the virus is controlled and our workforce is supported.”

The farm said Public Health England had advised that it was very unlikely Covid-19 could be transmitted through food or food packaging.

This meant shoppers could remain confident buying British fruit and vegetables.

Herefordshire Council said it was arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site, while they self-isolate.

Karen Wright, director of public health for Herefordshire, said: “While Herefordshire is the first to experience an outbreak of this kind, this is not unexpected.

Health and wellbeing

“Our priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of all residents in our community.”

Ms Wright said prompt testing on the farm had allowed the public health team to understand transmission and control the spread of infection.

“We continue to support the farm management, their workers – who form an important part of our local economy – and the local community through this challenging time,” she added.

“Anyone who has a fever, persistent dry cough, or loss or change in their sense of taste or smell should call 119 or go online to arrange a test.”

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