More than 100 outbreaks of coronavirus are ‘swiftly and silently’ being dealt with every week across the UK, the Health Secretary has said.
Matt Hancock revealed how flare-ups in schools, businesses and pubs across the country are consistently being handled with ‘local actions’, just nine days after many businesses reopened.
He stated that increased testing, some of which is being done door-to-door in infected areas, means officials can take a more targeted approach rather than imposing national measures.
Matt Hancock revealed how flare-ups in schools, businesses and pubs across the country are consistently being handled with ‘local actions’
Hancock’s comments come after 73 cases of the virus were confirmed at A S Green And Co, a farm in Mathon, Herefordshire, leading to around 200 workers being quarantined as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, today marks two weeks since Mr Hancock announced Leicester would be the first city to be put under a local lockdown – restrictions he is expected to review later this week.
The Health Secretary added that many of the outbreaks are nipped in the bud before they can ‘make the news’.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hancock said: ‘Each week there are more than 100 local actions taken across the country – some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with.
A police officer wearing a surgical face mask stands at the entrance to AS Green and Co farm on July 12, 2020 in Mathon, Herefordshire
People on AS Green and Co site on July 12, look out over the fence in Mathon, Herefordshire
Workers within the site appear to be carrying out social distancing as they pass the time on their phones
Another 21 people have died of coronavirus in the UK in 24 hours bringing the total death toll to 44,819
A further 21 people have died from coronavirus in 24 hours bringing the UK’s total death toll to 44,819.
Yesterday’s figure – which covers deaths in care homes, hospitals and the wider community – is the lowest Sunday figure since lockdown began in March.
But figures released yesterday are usually smaller due to a delay in processing over the weekend.
While it is a slight drop from the previous Sunday’s death toll of 22, this weekend has sparked concerns about a potential second spike after 148 deaths were reported yesterday.
Saturday’s number was more than double that of the week before and came three weeks after shops were allowed to reopen in the first major easing of lockdown.
A total of 650 people tested positive for the virus yesterday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 289,603.
On Saturday, 820 people tested positive.
No deaths were reported in Scotland, Wales nor Northern Ireland on the second Sunday that pubs, bars and restaurants were able to open their doors to lockdown-weary revellers.
‘This is thanks in large part to the incredible efforts of local authorities – all of whom have stepped up and published their local outbreak control plans in line with the end of June deadline.’
In an article for the newspaper, the Health Secretary said officials will ‘hunt down the virus’ by targeting areas of concern.
An increased testing capacity means the Government can take ‘more targeted local action and less national lockdown’ to allow the easing of measures for the majority of the country, he said.
The newspaper reports that door-to-door testing, which was utilised in the worst-hit areas of Leicester, is to be used more widely to curb outbreaks in the coming months.
Portable walk-in centres will also be stationed in areas where there is a flare-up of the virus.
A further 21 people were announced to have died from Covid-19 yesterday, the lowest figure since lockdown began in March.
However figures released on Sunday are usually smaller due to a reporting lag at the weekend.
Yesterday, Public Health England (PHE) Midlands and Herefordshire Council said around 200 employees at vegetable producer AS Green and Co were put into lockdown following a Covid-19 outbreak among the workforce.
The farm supplies vegetables to major supermarket chains, such as Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and M&S.
Some 73 workers tested positive for the virus, leading to the whole group of workers, who live in shared accommodation at Rook Row Farm, to be isolated together as ‘one extended bubble’.
Police were seen guarding the exits of a vegetable farm, as residents of the farm’s static caravans faced lockdown.
The council said it is arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site while they self-isolate.
A further 21 people have died from coronavirus in 24 hours bringing the UK’s total death toll to 44,819
Police guard the exits as hundreds of vegetable farm staff who live in trailers are ordered to self-isolate after 73 co-workers test POSITIVE for coronavirus at supplier to Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and M&S
- Workers at A S Green And Co told to isolate on the site in Mathon, near Malvern
- Mass testing was carried out after some workers showed symptoms of the bug
- Visitors and management team members were also tested, which were negative
- Company has measures to cut virus risk including testing and social distancing
By Georgia Simcox and James Robinson for MailOnline
Police are guarding the exits of a vegetable farm which supplies a number of major supermarket chains after 73 staff working and living on the site in trailers tested positive for coronavirus.
A total of 200 staff have been ordered to self-isolate after workers at A S Green And Co in Mathon, Herefordshire, tested positive for Covid-19 – which has caused the death of almost 45,000 people in the UK.
The workers are employed to carry out picking and packing work at the site, located to the south-west of Worcester and east of Hereford, while living in mobile homes on Rook Row Farm.
No workers at the site are being permitted to leave, but are receiving the required support – with officials treating group as as ‘one extended bubble’.
The farm supplies vegetables to major supermarket chains, such as Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and M&S.
Visitors and management team members were also tested and the company confirmed all results to date outside of their site have been negative.
The company has put in place a range of infection control measures to try to reduce the risk of staff being exposed to the virus.
These include supporting testing, promoting social distancing in communal social areas and the indoor packaging areas.
They are also providing PPE for staff where applicable, encouraging regular hand washing for at least 20 seconds and promoting the use of face coverings in closed areas.
Workers at A S Green And Co were tested carried out after some workers showed symptoms of the bug (stock photo)
A police officer wearing a face mask stands by his car outside the gates of Rook Row Farm
Rook Row Farm is currently closed for all visitors and workers are receiving support required on the site, the company said in a statement
The site is still waiting on all the results but 73 positive cases are confirmed so far.
During the harvest season, workers live onsite in mobile homes which all have toilets, showers and kitchen facilities and participants share the accommodation.
As a precaution the whole group are being treated as ‘one extended bubble’, according to officials.
Herefordshire Council is arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site while they self-isolate.
It comes after farmers appealed for people to take up paid roles on local farms to stop food being left to rot in the fields as part of the Feed The Nation campaign.
The owner of A S Green And Co was looking for 100 pickers and 60 packers to join their family team at the end of April, the Hereford Times reported.
In a statement posted on its website, the company said: ‘We confirm that we are working closely with, Public Health England and the Public Health team at Herefordshire Council to support a number of our workers that have tested positive for COVID-19.
‘As a precautionary measure we have arranged for testing of additional key workers including management team members and visitors connected with A S Green and can confirm all results to date outside of our site have been returned with negative results. To date there are 73 positive cases on our site.
200 workers at the vegetable farm have been asked to self isolate in mobile homes (pictured) onsite after 73 people tested positive for coronavirus
Workers are being asked to isolate on the farm and stay within household groups to reduce the risk of spreading the virus within the workforce
‘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 work force and local community are our priority at this difficult time and 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.
‘Public Health England advises that it is very unlikely Covid-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, so shoppers can remain confident buying British fruit and veg.
‘Thank you for your understanding in these difficult times.’
Director of Public Health at Herefordshire CCG speaks outside Rook Row Farm in Mathon, near Malvern
A man puts on PPE as he arrives at Rook Row Farm in Mathon, near Malvern in Herefordshire
Katie Spence, PHE Midlands Health Protection Director, said: ‘We are working closely with the management at AS Green and Co to support the health and wellbeing of their workforce and wider public health.
‘At this phase of the pandemic, we still expect to see cases in the community and within settings where people are closer together, such as workplaces, which is why the Test and Trace system is important, to help us pick up on any potential problems and swiftly to take remedial action to reduce spread.
‘To support this workforce of around 200 key workers, the company has put in place a range of infection control measures to try to reduce the risk of staff being exposed to COVID-19.
‘Measures include supporting testing on site, promoting social distancing in communal social areas and in the indoor packaging area; providing PPE for staff where applicable, encouraging regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and promoting the use of face coverings in closed areas.’
‘Despite these measures, a small number of workers became symptomatic earlier this week and they and a few close contacts among the workforce were tested initially and found to be positive.
‘In line with NHS guidance, affected individuals were asked to self-isolate for 7 days, with their households and close contacts asked to isolate for 14 days.’
‘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.
The site is still waiting on all the results but 73 positive cases are confirmed so far (stock photo)
The owner of A S Green And Co was looking for 100 pickers and 60 packers to join their family team at the end of April
‘The initial batch of results showed a significant percentage of positive cases, despite these individuals being asymptomatic.
‘We are still awaiting a few final results, but currently we have 73 positive cases of COVID-19 among the workforce.’
‘PHE Midlands and Herefordshire Council are therefore working with AS Green and Co to closely monitor and manage the outbreak and support individual workers.’
A spokesperson for AS Green said: ‘Our staff are our priority, they are hard-working key workers helping us provide food for the country during these unusual times.
‘We contacted PHE and we are working closely with them and Public Health at Herefordshire Council to prevent the spread of COVID-19.’
The company said that Public Health England advises that it is very unlikely Covid-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging (stock photo)
A S Green And Co specialise in growing runner beans, Tenderstem broccoli, broad beans and helda beans
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.
‘Our priority is to protect the health and wellbeing of all residents in our community. Prompt testing on the farm has allowed us 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.
‘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.’
Herefordshire have had 809 confirmed cases of the virus, with a rate of 421.1 (per 100,000 resident population), according to the Government’s daily statistics published last night around 6pm.
The company harvest from mid-May to mid-November and have packing jobs during the winter
In April Andrew Green, owner of AS Green and Co, told the Hereford Times: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in soaring demand for fresh produce, but with tighter border controls and travel restrictions in place, many UK farmers have been left with a labour shortage, putting their produce at risk.’
He added: ‘Not only does the role provide the opportunity to work in a safe, healthy environment throughout the summer months, but it also enables those who have been financially impacted by the pandemic to boost their income, without jeopardising the support they will receive through the Government furlough scheme.’
Following the Pick for Britain campaign – an initiative to bring together UK workers and farmers together to prevent crops rotting in the ground during the pandemic – the farm said it had received more than 300 applications.
On the firm’s website, it says workers are expected to share accommodation at Rook Row Farm, while there is a recreational building with a pool table, dart board and TV for all employees.
A spokeswoman for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said: ‘The industry takes this issue incredibly seriously and everything is being done to keep workers safe; their health and safety remains the priority.
‘Across the sector there have been significant investments this season; from the use of additional safety equipment and PPE, regularly testing temperatures, and following government guidance created specifically for seasonal workers.’
Karen Wright, director of public health for Herefordshire, urged anyone experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 to arrange a test.
‘While Herefordshire is the first to experience an outbreak of this kind, this is not unexpected,’ she said in a statement.
‘Our priority is to protect the health and well-being of all residents in our community.
‘Prompt testing on the farm has allowed us 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.’
The outbreak comes after lockdown was extended for at least two weeks in Leicester, east midlands, after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Number 10’s scientific advisers revealed on July 10 that the UK’s R rate is between 0.7 and 0.9.
The R rate represents the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects and SAGE admitted it could be one or higher in London, the Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire, the South East and the South West.
A S Green And Co specialise in growing runner beans, Tenderstem broccoli, broad beans and helda beans.