There has been a coronavirus outbreak at a factory which makes M&S sandwiches - here’s what we know

By Rhona Shennan
Friday, 14th August 2020, 12:45 pm
Updated Friday, 14th August 2020, 12:45 pm
300 factory workers have tested positive for the virus (Photo: Shutterstock)
300 factory workers have tested positive for the virus (Photo: Shutterstock)

Hundreds of workers at a UK factory which makes sandwiches for supermarket chain Marks & Spencer have tested positive for coronavirus.

This is everything we know about the outbreak so far.

What happened?

Almost 300 workers at the facility in Northampton have tested positive for coronavirus following an outbreak. The Greencore factory makes sandwiches for M&S.

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    Greencore said, “As a result of the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the Northampton area, we took the decision to start proactively testing all of the colleagues at our Northampton site.

    “We can confirm that a significant number of colleagues have tested positive for the virus and are now self-isolating.”

    In the statement, Greencore said that it is “liaising closely with PHE East Midlands, Northamptonshire City Council and Northampton Borough Council.”

    A spokesperson for Northamptonshire county council said that 79 people returned positive NHS tests, and that a further 213 tested positive through Greencore’s private testing.

    Did the factory have safety measures in place?

    Greencore said that PHE East Midlands, Northamptonshire City Council and Northampton Borough council were all “fully supportive” of the controls that were in place on the site.

    “All of Greencore’s sites have wide-ranging social distancing measures, stringent hygiene procedures and regular temperature checking in place, and we are doing everything that we can to keep our people safe,” the statement from Greencore explained.

    “As ever, the health and well-being of our colleagues is our number one priority.”

    Employees told to ‘act now’

    Northampton Borough Council and Public Health Northamptonshire issued a joint statement regarding the incident.

    The statement said, “Northampton borough has been experiencing a high number of cases over the last 4 weeks and residents and employees have been asked to “act now” to follow additional measures, to avoid a local lockdown or further government intervention.”

    It also emphasised individual responsibility in stopping the spread of the virus outside of the workplace.

    “Individuals must now understand their role in acting responsibly outside of the work environment, to ensure that they protect themselves, their colleagues and those that they socially interact with, especially family and friends,” the statement continued.

    “The guidance in the workplace is just as important as outside of work. If individuals do not take responsibility for following the guidance that we have issued, then further intervention and possible lockdown will follow.

    “Everyone must be meticulous in following the guidance, especially in social environments where no markers or visual prompts tell you to stay apart, it must become our normal and we must take our individual responsibility seriously.”