Meat processing business Tulip, owned by US meat giant Pilgrim’s Pride, has confirmed an outbreak of Covid-19 among the workforce at one if its UK facilities.
The company has not confirmed local newspaper reports that around a dozen workers have tested positive for the virus at its pork plant in Tipton in England’s West Midlands.
However, Tulip has stated the Public Health England (PHE) agency is working with the local Sandwell Council, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the National Health Service (NHS) “following confirmation of some cases of Covid-19 in staff members”.
Affected individuals are being asked to self-isolate at home.
A Tulip spokesperson said: “We are proud of our team members at Tipton who, as key workers, have bravely responded to this global pandemic in the most challenging of local circumstances. Their health and well-being is of the utmost importance and we welcome PHE Midlands’ support during these unprecedented times.
“We are working with PHE Midlands to arrange swab testing for a sample group in one particular area of production before deciding upon the need for any further screening. As soon as we receive test results, we will liaise with health partners to assess whether further actions are necessary.”
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Dr James Chipwete, PHE Midlands consultant in communicable disease control, said: “The management at Tulip Ltd are cooperating fully with public health professionals and members of the HSE, to protect the health and well-being of their workforce.
“We are dealing with a large workforce of almost 600 people, and despite putting a range of infection control measures in place to protect staff from potential exposure to Covid-19, there have been a number of cases among workers.”
Tulip has also confirmed it has reached a decision to close down the pork processing facility following a consultation process with employee and union representatives.
Employees were told of the decision at the end of the consultation period on 10 June.
A company spokesperson said: “The business is now in individual consultations with those impacted by this decision. Support is being made available to all those implicated in the site closure to explore opportunities for redeployment within the Tulip network as well as employment opportunities outside of the business in the local area.”