Covid-19 outbreak confirmed at tomato packhouse

Fourteen workers at Evesham Vale Growers’ tomato packhouse at Blackminster, near Evesham, have been confirmed positive for Covid-19.

Worcestershire County Council said the 340-strong workforce at the site will be tested and advised to isolate when not in work.

Dr Adrian Phillips, consultant in communicable disease control with Public Health England (PHE) Midlands, said: “We still expect to see cases in the community and within settings where people are closer together, such as workplaces.

“As we have seen a global trend of large food producers being subject to outbreaks, as a precautionary measure, the decision was made to test the entire workforce.”

EVG Europe managing director Andrew Bille said in a statement that the origin of the outbreak had been pinpointed to a particular minibus bringing staff to work. “The spring onion facility at Springhill Farm and those working in fields and greenhouses are unaffected,” he said. “Business will continue as normal.”

The company said the packhouse had put in place a range of preventive measures for its workers, including screens, hand-washing facilities, extra cleaning and protocols for workers coming and going on the site. “The business is confident in the steps it has taken for their safety and wellbeing, which is paramount,” it said.

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