COVID-19: 75 cases confirmed in Llangefni abattoir outbreak

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At least 75 staff at a chicken processing plant in Llangefni have now tested positive for coronavirus.

Public health officials say more cases are expected to be confirmed over the next few days following the outbreak at the 2 Sisters abattoir, which was closed for at least a fortnight on Thursday (18th June).

The outbreak has already seen Anglesey Council rule out reopening schools on Monday 29th June.

So far, around 350 workers have been screened for the virus at testing sites in Bangor, Holyhead and Llangefni. All 560 staff and contractors at the factory are self-isolating for a fortnight.

Public Health Wales say it’s nearly finished taking testing samples – fourteen known cases were confirmed on Saturday.

Dr Christopher Johnson, a health protection consultant, said they were aiming to bring the outbreak to a swift conclusion: ”What’s clear is that the system is working as it should – we are actively screening employees at the facility and this is helping us to identify contacts of individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19.”

”The advice for these contacts is to self-isolate to prevent further spread. The aim of the testing is to identify more cases and we’re likely to see an increase in overall cases in the coming days.”

”We are working in close collaboration with the employer, Anglesey and Gwynedd Councils, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and other partners.”

On Friday, Anglesey Council leader Llinos Medi declared schools would stay closed when the Welsh Government embarks on its ”Check in, Catch Up, Prepare” timetable, which is still due to go ahead in neighbouring Gwynedd.

Ms Medi said: ”I have always emphasised that the health and safety of our children, staff and communities must come first.”

”The growing number of positive cases…has created a great deal of uncertainty and concern on the Island. It is, of course, possible that we could see an increase in community transmission of the virus.”

”I am not, at present, willing to see classrooms reopened to Anglesey children. Given the current uncertainty, I believe that this is the right course of action, and the best decision in respect of the safety of our children, all school staff and wider communities.”

2 Sisters, which supplies food to major supermarkets such as Asda and Sainsbury’s, as well as the likes of KFC and Marks & Spencer, said: ”The health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues is ultimately the thing that matters most at our business. We are a responsible company with people at its core. Without our people we are nothing.”

”We will not tolerate any unnecessary risks – however small – for our existing loyal workforce at the facility…our sole focus now is to ensure we support all our colleagues through this time and look forward to operating safely and securely.”

But the Unite union said while the company had tried to work with them to provide a safe working environment, production at the Llangefni plant meant adhering to social distancing was ”virtually impossible” with staff raising concerns.

Speaking on MônFM on Friday night, Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said despite being given assurances by 2 Sisters, ”what has become clear now is that those measures weren’t enough”.

He added: ”It’s also become clear that this is a sector that may well be particularly susceptible globally. We’ve heard of problems in the abbatoir sector from America to Germany.”

Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie said she was hugely concerned by the outbreak: ”It is right that the plant has now been closed and my thoughts are now with the entire workforce and their families. It is crucial that, after contributing so much, that they are not now faced with financial hardship.”

”So far, through the efforts of everyone across the island, Ynys Môn has had a low incidence rate of Covid-19. The closure of the plant, for as long as necessary to ensure the safety of the workforce and wider community, is imperative.”

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