A TOTAL of 165 staff at the Kober food factory in Cleckheaton have tested positive for Covid-19.

Kirklees Council said the positive cases are being followed up by the NHS Test and Trace programme and they are being advised to self-isolate for seven days.

Anyone identified as a close contact of a positive case is being advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

The factory closed for a week last Monday after the coronavirus outbreak was found and it re-opened this Tuesday.

The news of the outbreak was not released until Thursday when the health secretary revealed it at the daily Downing Street briefing.

The company supplies Asda which said the factory would re-open with extra safeguards in place.

Kirklees Council said the whole workforce had been offered testing. It said the testing is likely to have identified people who had mild illness, or even some not showing symptoms who may have otherwise gone undetected and could have infected others.

The Council added that the detection of outbreaks of Covid-19 are now likely to become more common across the country with the introduction of NHS Test and Trace. It said the case in Kirklees is an early example of this new system being implemented.

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, Director of Public Health at Kirklees Council, said: “I’d like to thank Kober for acting quickly and working with us and Public Health England to help manage this outbreak.

“They reopened their factory on 23 June on a reduced capacity and only colleagues that have been tested and declared fit to return are on site.

“We’re satisfied with health and safety measures on site which include separation of colleagues on different shifts and as an additional precaution, checking the temperature of colleagues before they enter the site.

“Our advice to residents is to continue to socially distance, wash hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water and get tested if they have symptoms.

“Providing you have not been contacted and told otherwise, you can continue to leave the house following the latest government advice.”

There had been a rumour circulating of an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Great Horton area related to workers at the factory, but this has been dispelled by the Council.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: "There is no evidence of a specific Covid-19 outbreak in the Great Horton area.

"With the easing of the lockdown, we have stepped up community engagement to ensure communities have access to the advice they need to stay safe. 

"That means using our fantastic wardens and youth service to distribute leaflets and talk to people. 

"We are doing this work all over the district, the infection is still out there, people are still being admitted to hospital in a serious condition so we would encourage everyone to stay safe and stay apart."

Councillor Joanne Dodds, (Lab, Great Horton) said she had been made aware there was a possibility some of the workers from the factory could live in Bradford, but did not know of specific areas.

She said: “It has frightened some people, I can understand that. We need to educate and protect as much as we can.”

Cllr Dodds added that youth workers and wardens had been proactive in the ward, giving out masks and sanitisers, as well as leaflets to make people aware. 

  • Outbreaks of Covid-19 at three meat processing factories in England and Wales are thought to be linked to canteens and car-sharing schemes, the Environment Secretary has said.

During Environment Questions, Labour’s Luke Pollard asked whether statutory sick pay is high enough to ensure people do not feel compelled to work even if they are ill.
Responding, George Eustice said: “We suspect that these outbreaks might have been linked either to canteens or potentially to car-sharing arrangements in those plants.
“And we will be revising guidance to ensure that businesses have the approach that they need to prevent further outbreaks in the future.”