Birds “euthanised” as Banham Poultry coronavirus outbreak limits processing capacity

A team of 45 staff has been brought in to continue slaughtering chickens at Banham Poultry in Norfolk, as the number of cases of COVID-19 has reached 96.

Staff have now been asked to isolate with their families at home for 14 days.

This had had a significant affect on chickens due to be processed at the plant, and 300,000 chickens have reportedly been culled using gas due to lack of capacity in order to prevent welfare being compromised on farms as birds exceed maximum stocking densities.

Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said: “Following the COVID-19 outbreak in the cutting room at Banham Poultry, we announced last Friday that we were expanding testing to staff working across the rest of the site.

“Those tests have identified further positive cases. As a response, Banham Poultry will ask affected staff to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Staff and their households, including children, must self-isolate for 14 days, if they have not tested positive or not been tested. Staff must isolate for 10 days if they have had a positive test result, and their households, including children, need to isolate for 14 days. Anyone who has not been tested is urged to apply for a test and more mobile units are being brought in to support this.

“As the relevant regulatory agencies have confirmed the building has been deep cleaned, the company is bringing in a new group of 45 people to continue to staff the slaughterhouse. This will ensure that the euthanising of birds can continue, in accordance with the usual regulations.

“We appreciate this is a difficult situation for the company and its staff but we must take this action, to curb the spread of COVID-19 across the county.”

County council leader, Councillor Andrew Proctor, said: “We are working with Banham Poultry, George Freeman MP and the Local Enterprise Partnership, to urge the Government to support the company at this difficult time.

“We’re also working with district councils and voluntary groups to support the staff who are isolating.”

There have been 96 positive tests so far out of 477 tests carried out, with more results to follow. All staff at the plant, plus their households, are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days if they have not tested positive and for 10 days if they have tested positive – households of those who have tested positive need to isolate for 14 days

Additional mobile testing units are being brought into Norfolk, to offer testing to anyone connected to the Banham Poultry site

As announced last Friday, staff who are self-isolating are being offered support, if they need it, from the Norfolk Assistance Scheme – including food and medical supplies and hardship fund payments. The number is 01603 223392.

Contact tracing is taking place to alert anyone who has been linked to Banham Poultry workers who have tested positive for COVID-19.

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