Update on coronavirus in Northampton from public health officials at weekly press conference

Council officials provide update on Greencore and the town's likelihood of going into a local lockdown

By Jack Duggan
Friday, 14th August 2020, 2:49 pm
Updated Friday, 14th August 2020, 4:46 pm

The press conference has now finished but you can look back through our live coverage below.

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Nearly 300 people at Greencore in Moulton Park Industrial Estate have tested positive for coronavirus

Our live coverage of today’s weekly Northampton coronavirus press conference

Last updated: Friday, 14 August, 2020, 17:06

  • Weekly press conference from public health officials on the current state of coronavirus in Northampton
  • Outbreak of 292 positive Covid-19 cases at Greencore food factory in Moulton Park Industrial Estate
  • Northampton still an ‘area of concern’ for coronavirus cases, says Public Health England
  • Specific advice for residents including getting a test without Covid-19 symptoms, avoiding car sharing and public transport, limit contact with other households

Here’s our story from today’s press conference

Director of health points to 'carsharing, housesharing and socialising out of work' for Covid-19 outbreak at Northampton factory

Northamptonshire's Director of Health Lucy Wightman said she found Greencore "wasn't to blame" for the outbreak of nearly 300 cases

Welcome to the Chronicle & Echo’s live blog of the weekly press conference on the state of coronavirus in Northampton from public health officials today (Friday, August 14).

Northamptonshire County Council will provide an update on the number of Covid-19 cases in the county and answer questions from journalists.

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment Ian Morris and the county council director of public health Lucy Wightman are expected to lead the press conference.

The press conference comes as 292 positive coronavirus cases were confirmed at Greencore food factory in Moulton Park Industrial Estate and Northampton remains an ‘area of concern’ for Public Health England’s Covid-19 monitoring team.

Specific advice has been issued for Northampton residents including getting a test even if you do not have Covid-19 symptoms, avoiding car sharing and public transport, limiting contact with other households and sticking to social distancing guidelines.

The press conference starts at 3pm.  For the latest, remember to refresh your browser manually as this blog does not automatically update.

Everything we now know about the Northampton coronavirus outbreak at Greencore where nearly 300 cases have been detected

The first positive coronavirus test at the factory was confirmed to the Chronicle & Echo on May 4

New testing centre opens in Northampton today after Greencore outbreak

It comes as as 292 people have tested positive at a factory which supplies food to Marks and Spencer

Okay we’re getting started now - statements to come from different officials and councillors to come.

‘Whole of Northamptonshire has higher rate than England average’

Director of public health Lucy Wightman kicks off by saying Northampton is still an area of concern but the whole county now has a higher rate of coronavirus cases than the rest of England. 

In total, 3,743 cases have been recorded in Northants, with 151 in the week up to Sunday, August 9. Of those, 85 were in Northampton.

“Northamptonshire as a whole is really quite a challenging area,” she said.

The focus is still on town centres and the outbreaks, such as the one at Greencore, but there are also 11 others in care homes.

‘No mask - no ride'

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn started by saying the outbreak at Greencore is a ‘disaster’ for the town’s Covid-19 statistics and has national significance.

He issued a message to anyone getting on a bus in Northampton that they must wear a mask and should not be allowed on the bus if they refuse.

“The message to people on buses is simple - no mask, no ride,” he said.

“It’s absolutely essential they wear a mask when they get on and while they get off the bus.”

Cllr Nunn said bus drivers should not feel uncomfortable about refusing to let people on buses and urged other passengers to support them.

He added he has been amazed by the amount of people who have come forward with concerns about bus stops and urged people to keep doing that.

Concern about night-time economy - council leader

Cllr Nunn moved on to the hospitality trade, saying there are concerns about people getting coronavirus while using the night-time economy in Northampton.

He said any venues who are providing track and trace must do so, and customers must take part in that scheme too.

Moving onto the prospect of Northampton going into lockdown, Cllr Nunn said: "In regards to that fork in the road I mentioned in previous weeks, I still believe that if we follow the guidelines stringently we still can avoid that local lockdown. 

"Let's be absolutely honest, the 293 cases in this recent outbreak is absolutely dreadful. 

"Then reality of it is there is some mitigation in that it's around a factory rather than just scattered around the community."

‘We need the people of Northamptonshire to work with us’

County council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment Ian Morris reiterated the importance of getting tested if you have symptoms or even feel worried about your meetings.

“We’re doing everything we can but we need the people of Northamptonshire to work with us,” he added.

Cllr Nunn said there is also a lot of ‘boots on the ground’ tackling the Greencore outbreak, such as the new testing centre at Moulton Park Industrial Estate, visiting residents who live nearby, with many of those testing positive, plus 11 car showrooms.

Greencore: Employees socialising outside of work the biggest cause of Covid-19 cases

On Greencore, Ms Wightman said the company has been ‘exemplary’ in looking after its staff.

The outbreak was discovered by numerous employees testing positive through the NHS - 79 in total - before the firm hiring testing company Randox to test all 1,219 members of staff, which found 213 cases, many of whom were asymptomatic.

“This shows how challenging it is to find cases and to reduce the onward spread,” she said.

Ms Wightman said trends they found were that around 60 per cent of employees car-share to Greencore and other Moulton Park firms together, while most others use public transport.

Also many employees like in houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) which can increase the spread of the virus, plus they often socialise together after work, which the biggest cause of the increase, she said.

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