Hundreds of poultry workers and their families have been told they must self-isolate following a Covid-19 outbreak at a factory in Norfolk.
ALMOST a hundred staff at Banham Poultry have now tested positive for Covid-19, a rise of 21 since Thursday, so far 477 of the workforce of around 800 people have had tests. Public health director for Norfolk, Dr Louise Smith, said that all staff must self-isolate for 14 days “if they have not tested positive or not been tested.” This means essentially that the whole workforce of 800 will be put into quarantine until everyone has been tested and evaluated.
Dr Smith went on to say: “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”.
Mass culling across the UK
It has been revealed that at least 400,000 chickens are being culled in the UK due to Covid-19 infections causing disruptions in slaughterhouse routines. About 300,000 birds are also due to be culled in England and 110,000 have already been culled in Scotland.
The standard practice is that chickens that cannot be slaughtered for food are usually gassed with CO2 and their bodies are then rendered for fat and other animal by-products. They do not enter the food chain.
According to the British Poultry Council (BPC), the UK rears and slaughters about 20 million birds a week. About 95 per cent are chickens and the majority are processed through a few large slaughterhouses, each with a capacity of about two million birds a week. Production loss at even one large slaughterhouse can have significant impacts along the food chain and create serious welfare problems, the BPC said.