22 July 2020, 13:31 PM
  • Workers at Zorba Delicacies Ltd are being tested after four confirmed Covid-19 cases were linked to the Ebbw Vale plant
Four cases of coronavirus linked to Welsh food packaging plant

Public Health Wales is investigating four confirmed cases of coronavirus that have been linked to a food processing plant in Ebbw Vale.

As a precautionary measure, Giri Shankar, Incident Director for the Covid-19 outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said there would be “widespread, rapid” testing of the workforce at the Zorba Delicacies Ltd plant. Close contacts of the workers with confirmed cases were contacted through the Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect strategy.

“Investigations are ongoing as to the possible cause of the incident, and no firm conclusions can be reached at this early stage. No outbreak has been declared,” Giri said. “As we move into the recovery phase of the coronavirus pandemic, we expect to see clusters in settings such as workplaces.”

Zorba Delicacies, which employs about 490 people in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, makes dips, deli fillers and soups for UK supermarkets.

A number of outbreaks have been reported at food packing and processing plants, including in Anglesey and Wrexham. Earlier this month, AS Green & Co became the first farm in the UK to report an outbreak of Covid-19. But according to the Food Standards Agency, it is “very unlikely that you can catch coronavirus from food”, Giri said. “Coronavirus is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.”

Giri confirmed that no new cases of coronavirus have been linked with the outbreak in the 2 Sisters chicken processing plant in Anglesey, with the total cases remaining at 221. “The fact that no new cases have been recorded is a positive sign, and indicates that control measures have been effective.”

Meanwhile, the outbreak associated with Rowan Foods in Wrexham has recorded 309 cases. “There continues to be no evidence that this outbreak is factory-based, and the results we have identified are what we would expect to see when a focused testing takes place.”

The total number of positive cases identified at the Kepak Merthyr meat processing plant has stood at 139 since April. “Investigations in this cluster continue, and updates will be issued in the coming days,” Giri said.

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