UK farm in lockdown with 73 virus cases

About 200 workers at a UK vegetable producer are in strict lockdown, after a coronavirus outbreak.
About 200 workers at a UK vegetable producer are in strict lockdown, after a coronavirus outbreak.

Around 200 workers at a British vegetable farm have been quarantined following an outbreak of Covid-19.

Some 73 positive cases of the virus have been confirmed among workers at producer AS Green and Co, based in the village of Mathon, in Herefordshire.

A joint statement from Public Health England Midlands and Herefordshire Council said employees were being asked to remain on the farm during the period of isolation.

The council is arranging food and essential supplies for workers in mobile homes on the site, while they self-isolate.

Katie Spence, PHE Midlands health protection director, said the company had put a range of infection control measures in place, but a small number of workers became ill.

"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 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."

A spokesman for AS Green and Co, which specialises in growing beans, said its staff were the firm's priority .

A statement on the farm's website said the site has been closed to all visitors, while no workers are permitted to leave.

"Our workforce 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," it said.

"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."

The farm had received more than 300 applications in the Pick for Britain campaign - an initiative to bring together workers and farmers to prevent crops rotting in the ground during the pandemic.

Australian Associated Press