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

By Carly Roberts
Friday, 14th August 2020, 1:36 pm
Updated Friday, 14th August 2020, 1:45 pm
Almost 300 positive cases of coronavirus at Greencore were confirmed to the media on Thursday. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.
Almost 300 positive cases of coronavirus at Greencore were confirmed to the media on Thursday. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

The media is set to learn the fate of Northampton town centre this afternoon. A press conference is to be held at 3pm with public health chiefs and leaders of Northamptonshire County Council and Northampton Borough Council.

The briefing will surround the potential lockdown, which has been teased for three weeks by the local authority who have the powers to lockdown the borough of Northampton if cases rise.

It is at this virtual press conference where more details of the outbreak at Greencore, which has made national headlines overnight, might come to light.

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All staff who tested positive for the virus are self-isolating. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

What do we know about the outbreak at the sandwich suppliers so-far?

On May 4, this newspaper reported how one member of factory staff had tested positive for coronavirus and those who came into contact with this person were sent home to self-isolate and advised anyone with symptoms to take a test.

Since then, on August 13, Lucy Wightman, director of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council said her team is working with Greencore after the discovery of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Later on the Chronicle & Echo discovered 292 positives tests were been recorded at the factory, which makes sandwiches for M&S. Through NHS tests there were 79 positive results and through Greencore's own private testing a further 213 positive results were recorded.

The private tests were carried out earlier this week while the NHS tests 'took place over the last few weeks', Greencore said..

With more than 2,000 people employed at the campus, the positive tests account for around a tenth of the overall workforce.

Greencore has confirmed that all 292 of the employees who have tested positive are now self-isolating, and the factory is operating as normal.

A spokesman for 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.

"We are liaising closely with PHE East Midlands, Northamptonshire County Council and Northampton Borough Council, who are fully supportive of the controls that we have on site. In each case we have immediately conducted contact tracing and instructed potentially affected colleagues to self-isolate.

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

The Northampton branch of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which represents Greencore, said it was continuing to feedback test results to all individuals and is also conducting a 'thorough' track and trace process to identify everyone who has been in contact with those who have tested positive.

Also yesterday, the county’s director of public health revealed there are currently 20 different COVID-19 outbreaks in the county. Twelve are in care home settings, there are three hospital outbreaks and the rest are in workplaces.

Lucy Wightman said there is also now a link between the contagion spread and deprivation levels as well as car sharing.

On August 14, a new coronavirus testing site has been set up in Moulton Park for walk-in and drive-through patients, which will be based at the former Opus car park on the corner of Summerhouse Road and Deer Park Road.

Follow our live blog here this afternoon from 3pm as the town learns whether or not it will be put into a local lockdown.